Baxter Mutual Water Company

Problems May/June 2009

By Larry Gorden


May 27.  I saw very dirty water from the tap in early morning.  Checked water at well head and it was pumping dirty water so contamination source was in the well.  Called all residents and told them about the problem and to not drink the water.  Posted notice on mail box to not drink the water.  Called DRC pumping to survey the problem.  Purchased 4 gal bleach.

May 28.  DRC owner (Red) came out and said something may have broke off down in the well, perhaps a piece of well casing.  However his equipment was out of town and he could not do any repair for about 4 weeks.  He gave names of two other pumping companies (Rottman 942-6125 & Road Runner 942-6125).  Called Rottman pumping and they were too busy to help.  Called Road Runner and Archie came out to survey the problem.  He suggested we install a submersible pump, cost around $16,000.

May 29.  Water from well head was clearing in the morning with a rusty appearance.  By evening, water was running clear with a very slight amount of sediment.  I called Archie at Road Runner and he suggested we keep a watch on it.  Held a share holders water meeting at 8:00 PM to discuss the problem and decide on a solution.  The water company does not have the money to replace the pump.  We will continue monitoring water at well head for a couple of days and take in water samples for analysis Monday, June 1.

June 1.  Took samples at three outside faucets and delivered to AVEK lab.  Samples taken at Gorden, Baca, and Cooke houses.  (My Charge $30, Paid)

June 2.  All three samples were positive for Coliform and E. Coli.  Called Health Department and talked to Richard Lavin.  He said to resample at previous locations and add a sample at well head.  Collected samples and took them into AVEK lab.  (My Charge $50)  Purchased two electronic mouse chasers, cost $18.47 and installed them in the pump house.  These have worked well for me.

June 3.  All 4 samples were positive for Coliform and E. Coli except at Gorden house which was positive for Coliform only.  E. Coli at well head means we must treat the well.  Contacted the Health Department.  At around 5:00 PM, Kenneth Mattison from the Health Department came out to look at the system and give advice on what to do, including treating the well with 3 gal plain chlorine bleach, which I did.  Kenneth told me about other things we should do, including mouse proofing the pump house, cementing around old well head, and trimming tree close to holding  tank.

June 4.  Richard Lavin from the Health Department called.  He said to treat the well every 3-4 hours with 2 gal bleach.  After treating, wait 1 to 2 hours before pumping.  Do this 2 or three times.  I bought 6 gal bleach and  swimming pool test strips to test chlorine concentration.  (Cost $30.16 plus My Charge $50 for special trip to town)

9:35  AM.  Treated well with 2 gal bleach, left well pump turned off.

11:00 AM.   Turned pump on for 10 min or so to pump bleach out of well into tank.  Flushed fire hydrants.  Water was dirty with rust appearance at end of the system (hydrant at end of street and last two houses on East side).  Water at well head and Baca house were clear.  There has been no rusty water pumped from the well since last Friday, May 28.  Poured one gallon bleach in the abandoned well casing at the South end of the pump house.  That well is around 40 feet from the active well and could possibly be a source of contamination.

2:30 PM.  Well pump was running, water was clear.  Turned it off and treated well with 2 gal bleach.  Left pump turned off.

4:30 PM.  Turned pump on and filled holding tank.  Not much chlorine at well head after pumping for a while.  That tells me that most of the chlorine has been pumped out of the well.

7:45 PM.  Treated well with 1 gal bleach (last of what I have).  Left pump turned off.

9:30 PM.  Turned pump on.

June 8 (Monday).  Took water samples for analysis, 3 at faucets and one at well head for Bacteriological testing (total Coliform and E. Coli).  I took an additional sample at faucet near well for MPN testing (tells how bad the problem is) per request of Richard Lavin.  I took yet another sample for chlorine testing but was told by AVEK that I need a different sample bottle so chlorine testing could not be done (swimming pool test strips now show no chlorine).  I picked up additional bottles for samples, including one for chlorine.  (My Charge $30)

June 9.  10:45 AM, AVEK notified me that well head was positive for Coliform.  All other samples were OK, no Coliform or E.Coli.  Called Health Department, talked to Richard Lavin and his supervisor.  They said we may need to drill a new well.  Said engineering may need to be done.  They thought replacing the existing pump might not fix our problem.  I told them we could not afford to either replace the pump or drill a new well and that we need to try to fix the problem with well treatment.  They told me not to use household bleach again and said we need to get a certified operator to treat the well again.  I called AVEK and got names/numbers of three certified operators (Anthony Morrison cell# 661-466-6031, Kim Lord 661-860-8090, Mary Wood 661-406-7271). 

I called Anthony (Tony) Morrison and he and his son came out at 3:00 PM to treat the system cost to us $250 + $25 for the proper chlorine to treat the system (laundry bleach is not "proper" for treating drinking water).  They treated the well with chlorine and after waiting the proper amount of time flushed the well (pumped the water out into the pump house and let it run out the door).  They had to take pipes apart to do the flushing.  They also put some chlorine tablets in the "dead" well head.  They sealed a hole in the top of the holding tank.  They checked the inside of the holding tank.

They told us things we need to do.  (1) put a "candy cane" vent on the pipe into the well casing.  (2) Seal around the bottom of the pump motor.  (3) Put a vent on the "dead" well head.  (4) Patch concrete around the dead well head.  (5) seal the gravel shoot that goes to the dead well head.  A valve & outlet pipe for flushing the well would be nice to have.  Other things need done are sealing the pump house and painting (Andy is to give us estimate).

They suggested we chlorinate the well monthly and sold us some chlorine tablets for $25 so we could do that.  We'll need a chlorine test kit to check the amount of chlorine in the water.  They said to not chlorinate at least a week before taking samples for testing.

I'll take samples for testing and take them into the lab tomorrow morning.

We should have another water company meeting soon.

June 10.  Took four samples in for bacteriological testing as suggested by Tony Morrison and LA County Richard Lavin,  (1) faucet near pump house, (2) faucet at Shooks (3) pump after 5 minutes running, (4) pump after 15 minutes running.  (My Charge $50)

June 11.  No call from AVEK about our water test so I called them.  Our samples were OK, no bad stuff (negative for Total Coliform and E. Coli).   Must get OK from County before removing do-not-drink notice.  Called Richard Lavin and left message.

June 12, Friday.  Called Richard Lavin at LA County Health Department.  He said we must get two consecutive days of good tests before we are done.  It is now too late to test the day after previous test (on Wednesday).  So I'll need to take samples in Monday and Tuesday (bummer!!!)

June 15, Monday.  Took samples at well, Gorden, Baca, and Zavala (Deats) houses; and delivered to AVEK for analysis. (My Charge $50)  I need to call AVEK at 9:15 tomorrow.  If test is OK, I'll immediately take another set of samples and deliver to AVEK.  Called Rottman Drilling Company and got Driller's Report for our well and put it online.

Jun 16, Tuesday.  Three of four test samples were positive for Total Coliforms, no E. Coli.  Sample at well head was OK, samples were bad at Gorden, Baca, & Zavala.  Called Health Department but Levin wasn't available.  Was told to continue flushing and testing.  Called Tony Morrison, $500 to flush the system.  Called Shook & Tolman and got approval for spending $500 for having Tony treat/flush the system today.  I'll do test samples for AVEK the next two days and hopefully the well will be well (gotta find humor somewhere!). 

Once we get two consecutive days of good tests, then we test again in a month.  Tony said there is sediment in the holding tank and it could be the source of the positive Coliform.  The tank should be cleaned.  Now there's a fun job, best done in cool weather.  Water is safe to drink up to a free chlorine level of 3.5.

Tony and the Health Department say we should be planning for a new well.  Save your money!!!

June 17, Wednesday.  Took 4 samples to AVEK, one at well head and faucets at Gorden, Baca, and Zavala  (My Charge $50)

June 18, Thursday.  Samples from yesterday tested OK.  Took in another 4 samples (My Charge $50).  We have to get two consecutive days of good samples.

Kenneth Mattison, LA County Health Department, came out today to look at our system and the changes we made to prevent future well contamination.  He forgot his camera so I told him I would send photos ( after we complete sealing the old well cap.  He issued me an Abandoned Well notice that requires the well be destroyed (decommissioned) by July 30. (see Abandoned Well Notice)  A permit is required and the destruction must be done by a CA State Licensed driller with a C-57 license.  Kenneth is going to send a list of drillers with the C-57 license.  See Requirements for Well Decommissioning for a list of things that must be done.  It will be expensive!

I told Kenneth that our company could not afford decommissioning the well.  He said to go ahead and get an estimate, then talk to Richard Lavin about it.

June 19, Friday.  Thursday sample OK so that's two consecutive samples OK.  Called Richard Lavin, Health Department.  He said to insure AVEK faxes test report to the Health Department 626 area code number.  I called AVEK.  They only FAX by request at a  cost of $1 per page and I asked them to fax all our test results forms for this month to the Health Department, fax 626-813-3016.  Normally AVEK sends test results to the Health Department via snail mail at the end of the month.  Richard said to call him back Tuesday, they will be reviewing our records then to determine if we can remove the do-not-drink notice.  We'll need to test 5 samples in July.

I talked to Richard a about the abandoned well notice and told him I thought July 30 deadline for a potentially expensive job without any other notice was unreasonable.  Richard said we need to at least show effort and get estimates.  I'll do that when I get the list of certified contractors from Kenneth Mattison.

I sent photos of the old well head and our pump to Kenneth Mattison with CC to Tolman and Shook.  I sent an email to Richard Lavin with a link to this page.

June 22, Monday.  Talked to Dian at Bryant Drilling (256-2117).  They do well decommissioning and have the C-57 license.  Bud will contact me to arrange site survey and estimate.  They also do well/pump work and Mike will call to make an appointment to see our system and give thoughts on future well options.  Dian thought an inner PVC casing might work if the existing casing proves to be OK for it.

June 23.Kenneth Mattison, Health Department, called and said he got the photos OK.  He FAXed a list of drillers.  I called Rottman Drilling (942-6125).  Matt Rottman will call back with more info on getting an estimate for decommissioning the well.

I called Richard Lavin, Health Department, and he is out sick today so can't make progress on removing the do-not-drink notice. 

June 24.  Richard Lavin is not in again today so I'll try again tomorrow.

June 25.  Finally got Richard Lavin on the phone.  He faxed a document that allows me to lift the do-not-drink notice and I posted it on the community mail box.  To lift such a notice requires permission from the Health Department.  We have to do tests again in July, 5 bacterialogical test samples plus one for MPN test.  The MPN sample must be taken at the well head after the pump has been inoperative for several hours -- and then must be taken within a couple of minutes after pump startup.  Assuming the July tests go well then we'll be back on quarterly sampling.  Hopefully this nightmare is over -- for a while.

July 6.  Bryant Drilling still hasn't contacted me regarding well decommissioning.  Called them and talked to Dian.  She will remind Bud and Mike that they are supposed to contact me.

July 13.  Needed six bottles for testing and only have four requiring a trip to AVEK.  Collected the six water samples and took them to AVEK.  (My Charge $50)

July 14.  AVEK called and said the samples were OK.  WHOO-YA!!!  Briant Drilling still has not contacted me regarding well decommissioning.

July 20.  Below is a list of my expenses/charges and what is owed me.  I charge the water company $50 for collecting samples and delivering to AVEK lab -- unless I can coordinate it with a trip I need to take into town, then I charge $30.  If someone wishes to take over sampling duties, including dealing with the Health Department, I'll be most happy (make that extremely happy) to train you and turn it over.

Jun 02 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jun 02 $18.47 Electronic Mouse Chasers
Jun 04 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jun 04 $30.16 6 gal bleach & chlorine test strips
Jun 08 $30.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jun 10 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jun 15 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jun 17 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jun 18 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Jul 13 $50.00 Collect samples and deliver to AVEK
Total $428.63

Oct 13.  Took three samples (at Gorden, Baca, Zavala) in for Bact' testing.  All OK.