290,000 gallons of water to be dumped after vandals breach Novato tank

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- The North Marin Water District says it is dumping close to 290,000 gallons of water out of an abundance of caution after someone broke into the water tank and possibly contaminated it.

Just before 6 p.m. Friday the alarm system at a North Marin Water District tank did exactly what it was designed to do, according to General Manager Drew Mcintyre.

"We immediately went up to the tank and noticed that somebody had cut through the chain link fence, cut the lock that gains access to the stairs and then also cut another lock on top of the tank that's the access hatch," said Mcintyre.

Mcintyre says the tank which services 1,000 customers was immediately taken offline. A backup tank is providing water to customers.

Droneview 7 video shows there are two tanks near Wild Horse Valley Drive. Mcintyre says he is not releasing the exact one that was broken into to prevent copycat criminals.

Water tests didn't turn up any contaminants, but Mcintyre says it's impossible to test for everything.

"Our number one priority is to protect our customer's drinking water supply, so we made the decision then to go ahead and start draining the tank," he explained.

"Who would want to contaminate water, especially since we just got past a drought and now all that water is wasted," said Novato resident Victoria Meblin.

Residents are both relieved by the Water District's fast response and frustrated.

"It's upsetting, I mean that's a lot of water that gets wasted," said Novato resident Ian Hopper.

Mcintyre says it's approximately $1,000 worth of water, but the real cost is priceless.

"Very frustrated, it's a precious resource. We don't take this decision lightly," said Mcintyre regarding the decision to dump the water.

While extremely rare, he says this is the second time in three years they've had a break in.

The Marin County Sheriff's Office is investigating. Mcintyre says there is no surveillance video of the break in.

The Water District is now reevaluating its security measures.
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