Water usage restrictions in Benicia after landslide near I-680 damages water line

ByAmanda del Castillo and Ryan Curry KGO logo
Friday, March 31, 2023
Water usage restrictions in Benicia after landslide damages water line
There's an urgent requirement for anyone in Benicia to cut back on their water use after a landslide damaged the water line that goes into the city.

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) -- Officials have released an urgent requirement for anyone in Benicia to cut back on their water use immediately after a landslide damaged the water line that goes into the city.

The landslide was near southbound I-680 and Gold Hill Road.

"We are going to get to this as quickly as we can," said Benicia Mayor Steve Young. "But this is not going to be a short or easy fix or inexpensive fix."

VIDEO: Santa Cruz Mountains home on the 'edge' of creek after storm-induced erosion now red tagged

Following months of storm-induced erosion, a Santa Cruz Mountains couple's house now stands on the edge above a creek.

The damage to the city's main water line has forced Benicia officials to implement a Stage 4 Critical Water Shortage alert. This means everyone must reduce water usage by up to 40%.

"We have voluntarily pushed back 20% for many months now from the drought, and we're asked to do 40%... so, it's a 60% cutback," longtime resident Larry Cebull said.

City officials say that the pipeline is about three feet wide and is 10 feet below the surface. They say 4.5 million gallons of water run through it every day.

The water line delivers all drinking water to the city. While Public Works crews and other contractors work to determine the extent of damage - all Benicia homes, businesses, community organizations, schools, hotels, and others are being instructed to reduce water use.

"We got a text last night that said, 'reduce water usage' and I thought, 'why? When we have it falling from the sky for days?'" Michelle Appiano, the new owner of Sandoval's Mexican Restaurant, said.

Appiano says they've purchased four palettes of bottled water to be prepared.

In the meantime, Benicia will access water from Lake Herman as a secondary source, according to a press release.

But be aware - water from Lake Herman may have an earthy taste or odor in tap water because of "naturally occurring compounds."

RELATED: Hwy 101 in Novato reopens following repair to exposed gas line, Caltrans says

Still, the city says the Mount Herman drinking water meets or exceeds all State and Federal requirements for safe drinking water.

The city is suggesting people take shorter showers and use dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.

"There is a bit of irony in it that it is pouring rain and we have a shortage of water," said Dave Schilling a Benicia resident.

Others fear the cost of repairs will be put on the taxpayers.

"I am retired and on a fixed income," said resident Ronnie Valenti. "I am just concerned about what is going to happen. Everybody is wondering the same thing."

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live