Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Phoenix water woe roundup... with links to local bloggers

As of 4 p.m. today the Advisory is lifted. Scroll to the bottome of this post to read comments from other bloggers... So here's the deal, we've been under a drought meaning very little rainfall in the watershed over the past few years (refer to my trip to see the river and that of others). So with the frequent winds we get a lot of 'blow'. Blow is fine clay dust that accumulates during wind storms... this is what has been washed through the watershed in unprecidented amounts and this is what is choking the water treatment facilities and causing excess turbidity.

Be advised that water needs to be at a boil for at least 5 minutes before being used in the following situations:

  • Drinking water
  • Washing dishes
  • Brushing teeth
  • Food preparation
  • Making ice
  • Wound care
This is in effect until noon tomorrow at the earliest possibly longer. [now hoping for an end at 4 p.m.] From the county burn unit: "Be carefull not to burn yourself!" If you have consumed tap water be on the lookout for:
  • Nausia
  • Cramping
  • Diarrea
From Vox:
OK, the weather is beautiful here 300 days of the year - I am not complaining. However, the recent rains we experienced (that we really needed) have left us another problem. Potentially contaminated water. It doesn't help that two of our treatment plants were already down for maintenance. I completely forgot the alert yesterday and showered (long and hot), did laundry, drinking tap water.... duh!
From The Desert Tusk:
I was at the gym this morning. After I had finished working out I went to take a shower, only to find the showers closed off. This is why. Phoenix's 1.4 million residents, as well as residents in the western half of Paradise Valley, were encouraged Tuesday to boil their tap water until at least noon Wednesday, and also to limit what water they do use. City officials blamed a turbidity
From Coyote Blog:
My disdain for the local news media got me in a little trouble today. Apparently, something happened to the local Phoenix water system such that they had to declare the water contaminated in some way. Everyone was told not to drink or take showers, and many restaurants closed. I totally missed this for most of the day (what does it say about me that I notice Internet outages within 5 minutes but it takes all day to figure out we have no water). The media is not giving many details, but apparently drinking water supplies were contaminated by storm runoff. Two of my doctor friends were more specific- they said that the rumor around the hospitals was that "human remains" had been found in the water systems. Yum. Fortunately, we have plenty of bottled water around the house. I usually laugh at people's perceptions of bottled water -- I bet if you asked most people, they would say the water came from some spring or glacier runoff or whatever. The fact is that most bottled water comes right from the tap. I almost bought a water company here in Phoenix that sells most of the private label water to local supermarkets, and I know for a fact they just filter and bottle good old Phoenix tap water. Anyway, I am happy to have the bottled water today.

In case you didn't know, the City of Phoenix has issued a warning directing residents to avoid using tap water that hasn't been boiled. The mayor urges us to not panic and hoard up on bottled water. Does this strike anyone else as conflicting desires? When encouraged to boil water for no less than five minutes and then told not to worry, most people would jump in the nearest vehicle and beeline it to the grocery store.

However, the hype and hysteria centering around this announcement belie the nature of the problem: one water treatment plant failed a federal clean water standard for particulates. Particulates, to my knowledge, aren't harmful unless they're particles of poison, bacteria, or sharp objects. They just make the water cloudy. The water is then not appetizing, but it's no less potable.

The worst part of this situation—crisis seems unnecessarily dire—is the difficulty of getting valid information. Most of the local news sites carried a simple AP wire story on Monday and Tuesday that lacked any details. The City of Phoenix's site, linked above, had quite a bit of information but it was from the horse's mouth and the likely liable entity should people get litigious.

The Arizona Republic finally got a balanced story that tempered the hype and answered a lot of questions (including the advice to "wash with hot water and a lot of soap for as long as it takes to sing Yankee Doodle Dandy"). Of course, Laurie Roberts, a Republic columnist, tried to incite more hype by pandering to widespread ignorance and blaming the Department of Water Services instead of Mother Nature.

In my entire life as a Phoenix native, I have never heard of this sort of thing before. We've had serious rains before and, presumably, serious runoffs without such advisories. I have to wonder if it's because we have more stringent requirements and more sensitive instruments now. We may have had this exact same problem in years past but we didn't know anything about it. And I also wonder at the frequency of this sort of advisory around the country in places where rainfall is more plentiful.

From Snozzberries:

The sun'll come out tomorrow, betcher bottom dollar...

I have this annoying habit of always trying to find a bright side, a silver lining in a crappy situation (and it bugs the hell out of my librarian friend, Giselle) and 24 hours into the Welcome-to-Phoenix-don't-drink-the-water-or-let-it-touch-you-anywhere-your-bathing-suit-covers crisis, I have finally figured out how this can totally work for me - I now have a viable excuse not to do dishes two words: woo hoo
From Chad Campbell:
Boil your water? How about let’s boil the planners?

The Arizona Republic Laurie Roberts Jan. 26, 2005 12:00 AM

Two years ago it was gasoline. One pipeline break and we were essentially stranded, running on fumes.

But not to worry. It was, we were told, not a crisis.

Which, of course, meant that every one of us proceeded immediately to the nearest gas station to fill up, top off or suck down every last gallon of gas we could find. And for good reason. None of the people running this place seemed to figure out we had a problem until the pumps were dry.

Last year, it was electricity. One power surge at an APS substation and we were faced with the prospect of rolling blackouts.

But not to worry. It was, we were told, not a crisis.

So for 35 days last summer we turned up the thermostat until the water in the toilet reached a slow simmer, and we followed the 21-day, 2,000-mile odyssey of the only thing that could save us: a 190-ton transformer that was, curiously, not here but in Washington state.

Now, it’s water. One big storm and the drinking supply of the nation’s fifth-largest city has apparently turned to sludge.

Oh, but not to worry. It is, we are told, not a crisis. Which is why the city has issued a boil water advisory. A boil water advisory!

That’s right. We went to bed Monday night and woke up in a Third World country.

All day Tuesday we were told not to worry but oh, by the way, don’t drink the water. Not to worry but oh, by the way, boil the water before you brush your teeth or wash the dishes and by all means, give the bottled stuff to Fido. This, because of something known as turbidity.

“Abnormally dry conditions over a long period of time before recent above average rainfall in a short period of time resulted in heavier than normal sediment flowing downstream and into the city of Phoenix’s water treatment plants,” city officials said in an advisory.

Translation: There’s gunk in the water.

Which, they assure us, they anticipated.

Just not too well.

Of five water treatment plants in Phoenix, two are shut down because of routine canal maintenance and one is closed due to storm damage. So when sediment headed our way, that left only two plants standing to do battle with the muck and mire. One lost.

Thus, the need to boil water.

Meanwhile, the water’s just fine in Scottsdale and in Mesa and Peoria and, in fact, everyplace else. Only Phoenix is storming the Culligan man. Only Phoenix seems to have no alternative supply.

But it isn’t much of a problem, we’re told. Really.

“We have a very significant matter of inconvenience but it’s not life-threatening,” Mayor Phil Gordon assured us Tuesday.

“The water is not poisonous, and frankly, it’s very unlikely that anyone would get sick,” City Manager Frank Fairbanks said.

Meanwhile, the drinking fountains at City Hall were covered with tape Tuesday and posted: “Do Not Use Tap Water. Do Not Drink It or Use It for Coffee, Tea, Etc.”

It’s a heck of a way to run a city. And a state. In my present parched condition, I find myself wondering how it is that the people who run this place don’t seem to anticipate problems. Even Steve Nash has a backup (sort of). Yet when it comes to pipelines and transformers and drinking water, our only Plan B is to boil water.

In coming days, I’m sure our leaders will explain how this happened, how these things seem to so often happen here. I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they say.

For now, though, it’s about as clear as, well, water.

From Millissa the piccolo player of DOOM:
WATER CRISIS!!! Okay...maybe just a warning... if anyone has read my story "The 6:00 News", they would have noticed that the updated chapter mentioned something about a water problem... Oh yes...there is a water problem hehe.
From Daemon X:
There's also a huge "crisis" around here today with "contaminated drinking water". All the news stations are telling us every 10 minutes to boil our drinking water and everyone's stockpiling bottled water and stuff. This is all completely ignoring the fact that the "contamination" is just a miniscule increase in microscopic dirt particles in the water because of all the rain we've been having and that only Phoenix and Paradise Valley are affected, since Tempe, Mesa, etc, get most of their water from other places. Of course, this really wouldn't affect me much anyway, since I drink about 2 glasses of water -per week- on average, but oh well.
From quirkylittleme:
Lemme just say: This water "CRISIS" is just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. I took a bath in Africa in brown water. OoooOOOooooooH. Dumb. You eat dirt, breathe dirt, sleep in dirt, and bath in dirt every day, and today there just happens to be a little bit more. So we should basically shut down phoenix? No, that's foolish. I can agree with not drinking a bunch of it, but no peeing school or washing your hands!? Jesus, it's not AIDS water. It's some dirt! Dirt=nature Water=nature News Reporters=dumb. P.S. I forgot to report that Rasta Tings closed, and I actually may have been sad
From What the Junk?:
AZ Perspective and Junk put together some good stuff on the recent situation with our valley's water supply. I am glad that I live in Mesa and don't have to worry much. I love not having diarrhea.
From Sunburns:
Well, I drank the water. I didn't listen, I didn't heed the warnings! I am surprised that my eyes haven't turned funky colors yet & that my ears are still safely attatched to my head! Oh, but look at all those pretty spots! It's a good thing I have a lot of purple in my wardrobe!
Photo of effects of drinking water here. Previous Sunburns posts here and here. From The Crusader:
The City of Phoenix claims that the problems at the Val Vista water treatment plant have been fixed. However, residents are being advised to boil water until at least noon. Contaminated water from that plant was still working it's way through the 18 mile pipeline to the main system.
The question now is, "What we do about this for the future?" In the last two years, we've had: a break in a poorly maintained Kinder-Morgan gasoline pipeline in Tucson that left the whole metro Phoenix area without gas for over a week, a transformer fire at a power substation on the 4th of July that was made worse by APS mismanagement and incompetence and left us short of power in the middle of a sweltering summer, and now a water shortage due to excess sediment in flood waters that shold have been foreseeable almost three weeks ago....
From life_behind_the_mini_mart:
We had a water scare here in Phoenix yesterday. I woke up to the news that the city's water system had been contaminated by runoff from those rains we had week before last and that we were supposed to not drink the tap water without boiling it first or drink bottled water. This affected 1.5 million people who use the city of Phoenix water system, which includes us who live in west Scottsdale. So I went to the grocery store to buy some bottled water and there was a land rush going on there. There wasn't a bottle of water left on the shelves save the 9 dollar Evian (which is naive spelled backwards BTW) and people were even snatching that up. I saw people with grocery carts full of water, and I mean full. Now keep in mind this was only supposed to be a 25 to 36 hour problem while the city filtered out all the dirt clogging the filters at the treatment plants, but people in there were going at it like it was Y2K part 2. I was appaled. I expected people to be smarter than that, my mistake. A person is smart. People are a panicky, reactionary herd that follow one another like lemmings. So, with no water to be bought I instead bought a 3 gallon water container and went home and boiled 3 gallons of water, which worked just fine. So, now after this crisis is over (and I seriously doubt it was that much of a crisis, what is a little dirt in the water?) I'll be able to fill that up, put a little sodium chlorite in it and store it in the garage for next time.
From chocolat_princess:
So as of yesterday... the water in Phoenix AZ is "undrinkable"... Luckily I'm in the Glendale district, so it's not a danger on my end. But I can't imagine, for a second, the thought of water being contaminated and having to boil it. When the articles say don't: -wash your clothes -brush your teeth -shower -drink the water... I would WORRY! We went to the grocery store and there were NO water jugs left. It's people freakin' out that freaks you out. And to top it off... I went to a local coffee/donut shop and it was closed this morning... NO WATER = NO COFFEE = NO DONUTS... :( Anyhow, I'm assuming that as of now the problem is fixed but the thought if this actually happening on a national level is just plain scary!
City of Phoenix still has the ban on tap water for the 1.5 million residents of greater Phoenix. Which means that I took a shower in contaminated water, and I'm grouchy because Starbucks isn't serving coffee. I need caffiene people! I'm tempted to head over to Scottsdale for my dose of Starbucks. AARRRGGHH! On to something good....The new computer has arrived. I think I'm going to name him Sifl. I picked up the two new printers and wireless print server last night also. I have everything I need to be a happy geek. My geek spending spree has come to an end. *sniff*
From Burning in the Desert:
Found out yesterday that the city of Phoenix is under a water boil advisory - through today. Let me tell you - do you know how long it takes to boil water? It took me 3 1/2 hours yesterday to boil 2 gallons of water. Crazy. I ended up having my roommate pick up 2 gallons of water to save time. I guess there might be some type of bacteria in the water. Hopefully we will hear something today.
From Prime Numbers
right this minute in Az 4 phoenix water plants have shut down We have been advised to not drink water if we live in Tempe,Snobsdale and Phoenix. Which as we all knows, is where all the cool people live, my apologies to the cool people who live in other cities or burbs but you are living in the wrong place.
From Me: Here Here Here Here Here Here Here Special thanks to the following Non-Arizona blogs for getting the message out: The Moderate Voice Crystal Clear

No comments: