Arsenic and Lawsuits, Workshops and Hearings; A Clean Up/Abatement Order from the Water Board, and a City Council Agenda

LIVINGSTON, CALIFORNIA 05/19/2014

Water quality monitoring conducted by the City since January 2008 revealed that the arsenic levels in the water produced by the City’s wells has increased. the city must develop a contingency plan to be used in the event that the water produced by the City’s wells exceeds the arsenic MCL.California Department of Public Health, 2011 Water System Inspection Report. 

Well No. 16 has been offline since September 2011 because the media in the arsenic removal treatment system has been exhausted . Well No. 13 is also offline due to arsenic at elevated levels but below the MCL. The City is currently flushing the well to waste and collecting a bacteriological cycle test and hopes to bring the well online by mid-April if the cycle test results are coliform negative.California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2013 Water System Inspection Report

The City is currently conducting a Feasibility Study to examine adding additional source capacity, adding additional storage capacity , and adding localized or centralized treatment to provide water that complies with all primary and secondary drinking water standards. Several of the City’s wells produce water with 1,2,3-TCP above the Notification Level. Many of the same wells produce water with arsenic approaching the MCL (Well No. 12), at the MCL (Wells Nos. 13 & 15), and over the MCL (Well No. 16). Thirdly , Well No. 15 produces water with excessive manganese levels. The City has opted to provide treatment for the latter rather than applying for a waiver from the Department. The Feasibility Study is expected to be completed by the end of April 2013 – Ibid

Council Member Espinoza commented that there have been many complaints about the water system and a rate increase is warranted to correct the problems June 19, 2007 Draft Meeting Minutes (Re -Bergman Rate Study)

“Mayor Samra commented that making a decision is not easy for him and he agrees with all of his colleagues that something needs to happen. He said the Council will study this matter; however, not just the Council, but also the community at large needs to deal with the issue. Mayor Samra added that residents’’ concerns will be answered and he agrees that this item (Water Rate Increases) be continued” January 15, 2008, Draft Meeting Minutes (Bergman Rate Study)

“[t]he City operates a community water system under California Water Permit No. 03-11-98P001. The City’s source of water supply is exclusively groundwater. The City currently has eight (8) active wells. The quality of the water produced by most of the City’s wells is marginal and in some cases it exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for constituents like arsenic or manganese. Well No. 13 has [except in 2010 and 2011 when Well No. 13 was not operated] been exceeding the arsenic MCL of 10 μg/l since 2010.”  – California River Watch v. City of Livingston 

The City of Livingston has been sued.

Because of the Arsenic Levels in our Groundwater.

More on that a little later. But First:

A FEW DEFINITIONS

Before we get started, I must state that I am neither a Scientist, Engineer, nor Chemistry Nerd. But I have been following Livingston’s Water Quality Woes for quite some time. And after attending meeting after meeting over the course of the past few years while watching City Council after City Council punt this issue down the road time after time, I think I have managed to pick up a bit of knowledge by osmosis.

I have also amassed a fair amount of documentation over the years, and I’ve done additional research online: some of which I will be referencing as we go along. (click the links for even more detail)

Please forgive me, documentation purists, if some of my links are to Wikepedia, Yahoo Answers and/or other “Non Scientific” type websites. This is not a University Level Discussion in “The Chemistry and Related Issues in Municipal Drinking Water”.  I  just want to get across a few basic ideas before the Proposition 218 Hearing that’s coming up on Tuesday.

PRIMARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS address health concerns. (Things in the water that can make you sick or kill you if you drank enough of it over time)

SECONDARY DRINKING WATER STANDARDS – (things that make the water look and smell yucky, but might not necessarily make you sick or kill you) established to address issues of aesthetics (discoloration), not health concerns. In California secondary MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels) are enforceable.

UNREGULATED CONTAMINANTS –
Chemicals and stuff which do not yet have a Maximum Contaminant Level. (emphasis on “yet”) There is ongoing testing So the The Environmental Protection Agency can decide whether or not these contaminants occur often enough and at high enough levels to warrant further attention and/or regulation. (In other words, the Government is still debating the science about how much of that stuff will make you sick or kill you over time.)

ARSENIC – : a semi-metal element in the periodic table. It is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial practices. 

CHROMIUM – 3 An Essential Trace Mineral, not to be confused with it’s deadlier cousin: Chromium – 6.

CHROMIUM – 6:  Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, is a naturally occurring metal. It is also used in several industrial processes. Chromium-6 has been known to cause cancer in humans when inhaled. In scientific studies in laboratory animals, chromium-6 has also been linked to cancer when ingested (Think “Erin Brokovich”)

MANGANESE: Manganese is a pinkish-gray, chemically active element. it is one out of three toxic essential trace elements, which means that it is not only necessary for humans to survive, but it is also toxic when too high concentrations are present in a human body. When people do not live up to the recommended daily allowances their health will decrease. But when the uptake is too high health problems will also occur. (Not getting enough? You get sick. Getting “too much”? You get sick)

TCP – 1,2,3:  TCP-containing fumigants were used extensively by farmers in the production of a large variety of crops from the 1950s through the mid-1980s. In California, these fumigants (known by the trade names D-D and Telone) were among the most widely used pesticides in the history of the State, second only to sulfur…. In 1999, 1,2,3-TCP was added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer (Livingston sued Dow Chemical and netted about $9.5 million dollars to put towards removing the TCP from our Drinking Water)

mg/L: Milligrams per liter or Parts Per Million. 

ug/L: Micrograms per liter or Parts Per Billion, (ppb)

Parts per Billion, (ppb) – Imagine 13 drops of ink in one of the largest tanker trucks used to haul gasoline. That would be 13 Parts Per Billion of ink.

MCL: Maximum Contaminant Level – The highest level of a toxic substance allowed in Drinking Water. The Health & Safety Code §116365(a) requires California Department of Public Health to establish a contaminant’s MCL at a level as close to its PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL (PHG) as is technologically and economically feasible, placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health

  • If a toxic substance is higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level using a 4 QUARTER AVERAGE, a water purveyor has to figure out a way of reducing that number down to below the MCL, and/or come up with another source of water to deliver to it’s customers.

  • The Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic currently stands at 10 Parts Per Billion 

  • We have at least 2 wells that are over the limit of 10 Parts Per Billion and others that are really close to going over that limit.

4 QUARTER AVERAGE: As is this example.

  • If quarterly testing for arsenic at Well A produced the following results in Parts Per Billion: 8.5, 9.9 , 10, 11

  • The 4 Quarter Average would be 9.85 Parts Per Billion.

RANGE: The Lowest and the Highest. Using the Above as our example,

  • The Range would be 8.5 – 11 Parts Per Billion

NOTIFICATION LEVEL – The level at which the State of California says the public needs to be notified about a contaminant in the Drinking Water.

  • The Notification Level for TCP – 1,2,3 is 0.005 ug/L ( 0.005 Parts per Billion)

  • I’m not to crazy about decimals. So to “get rid” of the decimal, we move the decimal 3 places to the right and get 5 Parts per Trillion.

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, a significant number of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP ABOVE the Notification Level.

Parts per Trillion (ppt):– Imagine 5 drops of detergent in enough dishwater to fill a string of railroad tank cars ten miles long. That would be 5 Parts Per Trillion of detergent.

RESPONSE LEVEL – The level of contamination at which the State of California says a well “should” be removed from service because of a potential threat to Public Health.

  • The RESPONSE LEVEL for TCP – 1,2,3 is 100x the Notification Level (therefore 500 Parts per Trillion).

  • According to the Report by Kennedy Jenks, some of Livingston’s wells produce water with TCP levels ABOVE the Response Level.

PUBLIC HEALTH GOAL –  Concentrations of drinking water contaminants that pose no significant health risk if consumed for a lifetime, based on current risk assessment principles, practices, and methods. (Translation: levels low enough that you should die of old age before any of that stuff would make you really sick or kill you)

05012014 Water Bill Insert Page 1Having a basic understanding of these terms will comes in handy every now and then: like when open your “Water Bill” and find another in an ever growing series of “its not an emergency but we have to tell you about the Arsenic in the Drinking Water” notices.  (Or when you go to a Meeting, Hearing or Workshop about “What’s In Our Water and What We Plan To Do About It” and the Consultants and Engineers go on and on in what sounds like a Foreign Language to those of us who are not Math/Science Nerds.)

SO NOW, LET’S TALK A LITTLE ABOUT ARSENIC and that Lawsuit I mentioned earlier.

To start with, we’ve been getting “Warnings About Arsenic” in the Water Bills since at least July of last year: after Well #13 was brought back on line and it was discovered, oops, that it was testing just a little over the Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic.

According to the 2011 California Department of Public Health Water System Inspection Report (page 9), Well #13 “was offline because the motor had burned up and needed to be replaced” and “the well has been offline for approximately two years due to construction”.

Well Locations with Local LandmarksThe 2013 California Department of Public Health Water System Inspection Report (page 15) talked about City Wells that “produce water with arsenic approaching the MCL (Well No. 12), at the MCL (Well Nos. 13 & 15), and over the MCL (Well No. 16).

At the May 20, 2013 meeting of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee Meeting, members were notified that Well #13 was running a little high on Arsenic and would likely need to have an Arsenic Filtration System installed.

Arsenic Compliance OrderAt the June 03, 2013 meeting of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, members were informed that the California Department of Public Health had issued a Compliance Order For Violation of the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level

Page 8About December 10, 2013, California River Watch notified the City of Livingston of their intention to file suit under the Safe Drinking Water Act. At the very next City Council Meeting, the number of Cases of Potential Litigation to be discussed in Closed Session increased from 3 (as on November 19th) to 4. 

Page 1That Livingston finally ended up with a Compliance Order for Violating the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant level should be no real surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to Livingston’s Water Quality Woes.

Arsenic, and the need for filtration was a Topic of Discussion in the 2007/2008 Bergman Rate Study.  It was also a component in the 2009 Rate Study done by Raftelis Financial Consultants.

imageMaybe it is just coincidence that California River Watch decided to sue the City of Livingston about Violating the Arsenic Standard right around the same time we are getting ready for our THIRD round of Water Rate Studies and Proposition 218 Hearings in 6 years or so…..But

According to the Merced Sun Star, David Weinsoff, an attorney retained by California River Watch, stated

“There are senior citizens and children who are drinking this water, those that have compromised health systems that are drinking this water,” he said. “I frankly don’t see why the city doesn’t figure out who is most affected by the arsenic and provide water bottles or another alternative water source.”

And

Weinsoff said the goal of the lawsuit is to order the city to address the problem sooner than the deadline issued by the state and to notify at-risk residents, such as children and the elderly, when the city is out of compliance with maximum contaminant levels.

Maybe, just maybe, considering Livingston’s long history of Cycling through Hearing after Hearing, Consultant after Consultant, and Study after Study, California River Watch decided to invoke a “Higher Power” to make sure something actually gets done this time around.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MISSED THE “WATER RATE” WORKSHOPS last month, and would like to see a copy of the Power Point Presentations, you can click on the following.

Water And Sewer Rate Study Community Workshop #1 April 8th, 2014: English

Water And Sewer Rate Study Community Workshop #2 April 10th, 2014: Spanish

Water And Sewer Rate Study Community Workshop #3 April 22nd, 2014: Punjabi

  • TO READ A COPY OF THE RATE STUDY in English, Spanish and/or Punjabi, you can go to:

    FOR EVEN MORE ON THE HISTORY OF LIVINGSTON’S WATER QUALITY WOES, I offer the following:

  • Salmonella, Arsenic, TCP and Manganese, A Timeline About Water Issues, and a City Council Agenda 

  • California Water Board Clean Up and Abatement Order – July 21, 2012 – Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility

  • 2 Rate Studies, 4 Rate Consultants, 1 Recall Election, 3 Rate Rollbacks, 1 Rate Committee, 1 New City Manager, 1 New Public Works Director, 1 Public Relations Firm and 1 Report by Kennedy Jenks (And a City Council Agenda) (I should probably mention at this point that the City of Livingston is now looking for Yet Another Public Works Director..anyone want to take bets about how long this one will last? )


  • 2008 City of Livingston Water Rate Study Presentation: Dan Bergmann, Interstate Gas Services, Inc.

  • 2009 City of Livingston Wastewater and Solid Waste (Garbage) Rate Study: Raftelis Financial Consultants

  • 2009 City of Livingston Water Rate Study: Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. 

  • California Department of Health – Compliance Order For Violation of the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level: May 16, 2013

  • California Department of Health Sept. 2010 Letter on Water System Funding

  • California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2011 Water System Inspection Report

  • California Department of Health: City of Livingston 2013 Water System Inspection Report


  • Feasibility Analysis For A Sustainable Water Treatment Strategy–Kennedy Jenks Consultants

  •  

    CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

    MAY 20, 2014

    CLOSED SESSION: 6:00 P.M.

    OPEN SESSION: 7:00 P.M.

    Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Regular Meeting on April 15, 2014, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Open Session will begin at 7:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in accordance with state law prior to the Open Session beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street. The agenda shall be as follows:

    Closed Session

    1. Call to Order.

    2. Roll Call

    CLOSED SESSION

    A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston,

    California.

    3. Public Employee Performance Evaluation

    (Government Code Section 54957(b)(1))

    Title: City Manager

    4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

    (Government Code Section 54957.6)

    Labor Negotiator: Jose M. Sanchez, City Attorney

    Unrepresented Employee: City Manager

    5. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

    [(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

    Number of Cases: 2

    6. Conference with Labor Negotiator

    (Government Code Section 54957.6)

    Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

    Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

    Regular Meeting

    CALL TO ORDER

    Roll Call. Next Resolution No. 2014-22

    Next Ordinance No. 619

    Pledge of Allegiance.

    Closed Session Announcements

    Changes to the Agenda.

    AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

    1. Presentation by City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez: 20 Year Service Pins to Danna Rasmussen, Senior Administrative Analyst, and Debbie Parrott, Senior Account Clerk.

    ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

    Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

    City Staff Announcements and Reports.

    City Manager Announcements and Reports.

    City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

    Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

    PUBLIC HEARINGS

    2. An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting a New Rate Schedule for Water Service – Proposition 18 Hearing.

    3. Resolution and Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting a New Rate Schedule for Domestic Wastewater Service (Sewer Service) – Proposition 218 Hearing.

    CITIZEN COMMENTS

    This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

    CONSENT CALENDAR

    Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

    4. Waive the Second Reading and Adopt Ordinance No. 613 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending the Livingston Municipal Code Title 4, “Building Regulations,” to Add Chapter 4-7 Establishing a Regional Transportation Impact Fee (RTIF).

    5. Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 1, 2014.

    6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated May 15, 2014.

    DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

    7. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No. 616 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting Amendments to Title 4, Chapter 1 of the Livingston Municipal Code Pertaining to the Livingston Building Code, and Ordinance No. 617 Adopting Amendments to Title 7, Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the Livingston Municipal Code Pertaining to the Livingston Fire Code and Related Changes.

    8. Introduce and Waive the First Reading of Ordinance No. 618 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Amending the Livingston Municipal Code to Repeal Title 9, Chapter 7, Entitled “CATV Franchise” in its Entirety.

    9. Direct City Engineer to Design and Prepare Plans of Scope of Work for Water Line Improvement Project Phase III.

    ADJOURNMENT

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