A report heard by the South Pasadena City Council on Wednesday detailed $5.8-million in costs associated with the city’s compliance with new state water regulations in 2017 and 2018.
The compliance effort led to several months of discolored water in some South Pasadena households last year as the city switched from a mostly groundwater supply to a purchased water supply.
In February, the city completed the installation of a $2.7-million water treatment system at Wilson Reservoir that will comply with the state requirements for 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) and, according to city officials, has eliminated the discolored water issues.
“What was particularly difficult, and costly, was the short time frame given to cities to comply with the 1,2,3-TCP regulations,” explained John Pope, South Pasadena’s public information officer. “With more time, the city could have avoided purchasing outside water, which was expensive and created the discoloration issues that arose last summer. We will be using the content of the report to draft a letter to the state water board and our local legislators.”
Pope said the discolored water resulted from a changeover from groundwater supplies to purchased water, which was treated with a different type of purification system.
“In some homes with older, galvanized pipes, the purchased water caused a reaction that resulted in rusty or yellow discoloration,” he noted. “The discolored water was safe to use, but was inconvenient for residents who had to flush their pipes regularly.”
A year ago, South Pasadena residents began to bring samples of discolored water to City Council meetings to illustrate the point improvements were needed in the city’s water system.
“We all support clean water,” said Pope. “However, the manner in which these regulations were implemented by the state created a tremendous hardship for South Pasadena.”
With the new treatment plant now operational, the City Council requested a report on the full costs of complying with the mandate.
South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe says the $5.8 million figure is actually low because it does not include an estimated 2,000 hours of staff time needed to address the discoloration issues and provide additional customer service, including dozens of site visits.