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State Water Board Says Alameda Point Water Safe To Drink

Alameda Point Irrigation Well

Map from U.S. Navy conveyance document showing wells at Alameda Point, including a black marker for an irrigation well at top center.

City officials noticed the media and the public just after 5 p.m. yesterday that the State Water Resources Control Board had lifted the do-not-drink restriction in effect since Tuesday evening.

In conversations with City of Alameda officials and an East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) spokesperson, Action Alameda News learned the following about the events leading up to the water restriction and its ultimate lifting.

Water quality began to return to normal later in the week after officials disconnected an irrigation well located at Alameda Point from its distribution system.

Officials believe that the non-potable irrigation water distribution system somehow got connected to Alameda Point’s potable water distribution system, feeding un-treated water, from the well in the northeastern corner of Alameda Point, to faucets at businesses and residences.

The first complaints about the water at Alameda Point surfaced Friday, and testing began on Saturday.

Andrea Pook, spokesperson for EBMUD, explained, “we get reports about water quality issues on a daily basis.” But samples and test results are needed to give them data to act on.

Testing over the weekend and through Tuesday turned up nothing actionable. However, by Tuesday evening officials had test results that showed non-potable water in the potable water system.

Pook explained that the delay in identifying a problem through testing hinges on the way water moves physically through the system, and the blending of potable and non-potable water and the degree to which its blended. Essentially, a test sample has to have a high enough percentage of non-potable water in it for results to show that there is a problem.

Pook said that once test results identified a problem, they immediately took action, issuing the do-not-drink and no-body-contact restrictions.

Liam Garland, interim public works director, told Action Alameda News that test results returned late Wednesday note were negative for coliform bacteria; coliform bacteria is an indicator for other bacteria as well.

Garland explained that EBMUD has a profile of its water, and, apart from detecting contaminants in samples, it can determine that water from another source has entered the system when the profile of a sample doesn’t match known EBMUD water profiles. One of the parameters in the profile is electrical conductivity.

As of Thursday morning, officials were waiting for results from “a battery of tests,” Garland explained. Those results came back Friday and were negative for other “harmful contaminants” according to a City of Alameda statement.

A second round of tests for bacteria came back negative on Thursday evening.

City officials say that the irrigation well suspected as the source of the non-potable water remains disconnected at the source.

To date, nobody is able to explain how the irrigation well distribution system become cross connected with the potable water system.

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