Pescadero goes without water after pump fails

August 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
They're working all night in a small Bay Area community, trying to replace a broken well pump. It can't happen soon enough for hundreds of people who are being told to boil their water before using it. It's happening in Pescadero-- a town south of Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County.

Preschool has been canceled for Pescadero Elementary because of the water situation. Work crews hope to have the pump repaired on Wednesday between noon and 5 p.m. The situation is affecting 125 homes and businesses, inconveniencing about 800 people.

For now, the best water in Pascadero comes in plastic jugs. Some of it was delivered to residents who couldn't get out of the house. More than 100 other people dropped by the community center to get their share of the emergency water supply. Among them, was Ann Timm who was quite miffed.

"We don't seem to have good services that we require here and that really bothers me," said Ann.

The town's back-up pump is keeping water flowing to homes, but because the pressure is so low, residents are being told to boil it until tests proves it safe. The Timms say they didn't get that warning soon enough.

"If it is unsafe water, both my wife and I have definitely drank enough of it, we'll find out tomorrow or tonight. So I'm concerned about that," said Greg.

The town's well pump had been acting up for a week. On Monday afternoon, the pump died. Workers got it running again, but around 10:30 at night, it burned out for good and 800 people woke up to no water. The pump did have an alarm system in case of shutdowns, but the warning system had been disconnected years ago.

"It malfunctioned and it kept sending out false alarms, so it was disconnected -- and this was about 10 years ago, as I understand -- and it was never repaired," said Greg Bonaparte from the Pascadero Municipal Adversary Committee.

Around Pescadero, stores and restaurants had to close for the day including the kitchen at the convenience store in the middle of town.

When asked how much money he thought he lost, store manager Uriel Galvan said, "Oh, a lot. I don't know how much I lost, but it's a lot."

Four portable toilets have been set up until the trouble passes. The Timms are somewhat fortunate in that regard.

"Luckily we have a very low flow toilet downstairs, so it works. Our toilet upstairs does not work," said Ann.

Repairs are expected to cost $250,000 and officials say they want to get to the bottom of this so that this does not happen again.

There have been no emergencies, but a pumper truck is on standby in case of fire.


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