Poway to be cited for out-of-compliance water system, state official says

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POWAY, Calif. -- A state official said Wednesday that Poway's out-of-compliance water storage reservoir contributed to the overflow that prompted the city to issue a boil water advisory, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

A San Diego district engineer for the state's Water Resources Control Board drinking water division told the Union-Tribune that according to regulations, reservoir overflow connections cannot be directly connected to a storm or sewer drain.

Sean Sterchi says he plans to tell the city that its reservoir, which is connected to the storm drain, is out of compliance. He says the city will be receiving a citation to propose a solution.

City officials responded with the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"Today we learned a representative with the State Water Resources Control Board told the media the city’s clearwell is out of compliance because of its proximity to a storm drain.

"This comes as a shock to the city because in September 2019 we received a report from SWRCB with no indication that there was any storm drain compliance issue at the clearwell. In fact, in the more than 50 years the facility has been in operation and under regular inspection by the state, the city has never been made aware of a compliance issue of this nature.

"Since the precautionary boil water advisory was put in place city staff have been working around the clock in accordance with state guidelines to get the Poway water system back online. As we have previously stated, testing results show Poway that water continues to meet health standards, including three certified test results showing that the water is absent of bacteria.

"The city continues to follow mandated state protocols for the precautionary boil water advisory."

Wednesday was the fifth day the city was under the advisory. The order was issued over Thanksgiving weekend when it was discovered that storm water got into the city's clear water storage facility that holds 10 million gallons of water. About 14,000 customers were told not to use tap water and more than 200 restaurants were prohibited from serving customers until the problem is resolved.

The city said the water has been tested and meets state standards, but additional tests are needed and will be conducted into Thursday.

On Wednesday morning, city officials said three tests had confirmed bacteria was not present in water samples collected throughout the city. Even so, the city said it was proceeding with state protocols for ensuring water purity, keeping the boil water order in effect until further testing was completed.

Bottled water is being distributed at Lake Poway and City Hall from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily while the order is in effect.

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