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Water at Alameda Point Undrinkable

A man picks up bottled water on West Ranger drive on Alameda Point, September 13, 2017. (Action Alameda News)

For the second day in a row, the City of Alameda handed out bottled water to residents at Alameda Point after the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) found evidence of non-drinkable water coming out of faucets in the west-end neighborhood’s homes and businesses.

City officials first issued a media release at 7 p.m. last night, notifying residents at Alameda Point, the former Naval Air Station Alameda, not to drink water from the faucets or use tap water for brushing teeth, washing dishes, cooking, or for pets.

Although the notice pointed out that the “alert is isolated to Alameda Point due to the nature of the Navy infrastructure at the former base, and does not affect the water quality anywhere else in Alameda,” Alameda residents were confused and concerned; some people took to social media forums to ask exactly where in town Alameda Point is. (It’s west of Main Street.)

Catalina Doddridge, who lives in the WWII-era Woodstock Homes co-operative, just across Main Street from Alameda Point, went to the bottled-water depot on West Ranger Avenue this afternoon.

She said that after she heard about the alert yesterday, and, with two children, two dogs and a cat in the house, her family has erred on the side of caution and hasn’t drank any tap water.

Doddridge said she hadn’t noticed anything different about her tap water, but that “Erin Brokovich comes to mind. With the Navy, you don’t know what type of chemicals are there, and could it seep into our area?”

Late last night, the City of Alameda had issued a statement saying that EBMUD is working on the problem, “which is most likely due to a cross connection between a potable drinking water line and a non-potable irrigation line.”

However, Doddridge hadn’t seemed to have received that message, and spoke more of rumor than official statement, saying, “the little that I’ve read…I don’t feel like I have enough information, but the neighbors were saying there was a report of too much salt in the water. Someone else said that it was some chemicals that the Navy had used back in the day when this base was being used.”

Compounding the confusion, she mentioned a pamphlet she received in the mail from the Navy recently, which based on her description, would be this fact sheet about groundwater cleanup at the former base.

So far, no City of Alameda statements have linked the groundwater cleanup effort to the current potable water problem, and the Navy’s fact sheet doesn’t indicate that the remediation efforts involve the water distribution system.

At 4:30 p.m. today, the City of Alameda issued another statement saying staff facilitated a community meeting at 1 p.m. today at Michann’s Theater at Alameda Point, with more than 50 community members were in attendance.

Representatives from the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), the State Water Resources Control Board, city staff from Base Reuse, Public Works, the Police Department, the City Manager’s office and two city councilmembers were on hand as well.

City officials say they have made 10 portable showers available for affected residents, two of them ADA compliant. The showers are located at the Alameda Fire Department Training Facility at 431 Stardust Place in the parking lot.

Fellow residents that want to contribute to impacted residents can take donated items to the Alameda Point Collaborative at 677 West Ranger Avenue. Most useful right now are baby wipes, disposable diapers, and hand sanitizer.

The Red Cross is providing bottled water and paper goods.

The do-not-drink-water advisory remains in place and will remain until the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water deems the water safe for drinking and bodily contact.

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