Springville citizens grapple tightened measures on water

Del Oro Water Company signage near the entrance to the new water treatment facility, located across the highway from River Island below Springville.(Kenny Goodman)

As Del Oro Water Company increases conservation measures, their customers in Springville voice their concerns on how the company is handling the situation

SPRINGVILLE – Residents of River Island Water District have been put under Stage 5 conservation restrictions by their water provider Del Oro Water Company (DOWC), after they were allegedly unable to meet the requirements put in place by Stage 4 measures.

According to the Water Warriors Against Del Oro (WWADO) — a group of residents who have taken issue with their water supplier — Del Oro has enacted Stage 5 due to “River Island District customers (failing) to conserve enough water,” which became effective Oct. 25.

“Once again, we are alleged to be failing to save enough water and their system cannot keep up,” WWADO stated. “Furthermore DOWC has gone against CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) rules by enacting mandatory conservation measures without a public meeting, as per CPUC Standard practice U-40-W.”

While WWADO’s statement cautions the possibility of Stage 6 being enacted, Janice Hanna— Del Oro’s director of accounting and regulatory affairs — confirmed that there are no plans to do so as of press time.

Should Stage 6 be enacted, residents in the River Island Water District would have to cease all outside watering. Stage 5, however, restricts outdoor watering to once per week. Customers with even-numbered addresses, or no street address, may irrigate on Saturdays, and customers with odd-numbered addresses may irrigate on Sundays.

In tandem with these restrictions, Del Oro also issued a water boil notice to residents of Deer Creek Drive, Spotted Fawn Court, Silver Fox Lane and Rabbit Hill Drive. According to them, “due to the recent increased water usages, the tank level dropped causing water pressure below 5 psi on Oct. 25,” which means contaminants may have been able to enter the system.

However, residents shared a slightly different story, claiming that the notice was issued due to DOWC’s allowing a builder to drain water from a metered fire hydrant despite the district’s conservation measures.

“Del Oro was informed by its customers and we were told that the builder was in fact allowed to use that specific fire hydrant,” WWADO stated. “It was not until 1 p.m. on Oct. 26 that Del Oro finally decided to prohibit (water) use to the construction company and remove the meter.”

Regardless of what circumstances warranted the boil notice, DOWC is currently taking lab tests to determine when the affected residents can cease boiling their water.

“We continued to monitor the situation, and with our customers’ conservation efforts over the weekend, we have avoided implementation of Stage 6 conservation restrictions at this time,” Del Oro stated. “We cannot thank our customers enough for their cooperation.”

While water is currently scarce for Springville residents, they can look forward to restrictions easing up once Del Oro’s treatment plant begins operation sometime within the coming weeks.

“Treatment plant start up testing began this week and will continue for three weeks,” DOWC stated. “(Our) staff and the State Water Resources Control Board staff are meeting this week to proceed with the permitting process.”

Despite their efforts to get the plant up and running, the WWADO feel that Del Oro has “demonstrated a failure to sustain sufficient source capacity, and failure to make necessary improvements to water tanks and other infrastructure, as well as having any kind of resolution with its customer base.”

While it may not solve all their issues, the implementation of the water treatment plant will ensure that residents have steady access to water barring any circumstance such as an extreme drought.

As reported in a previous Sun-Gazette article, the wells currently supplying River Island Water District customers will be used as back-up sources should something happen to the Pleasant Valley Canal, which will supply the treatment plant once it’s up and operational.

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