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Auburn, Calif.- Water flowing from the mountains into Placer County Water Agency water treatment plants is of good quality and has only minimal upstream contaminants, as reported Thursday (May 3).

In a presentation to the PCWA Board of Directors, Colfax-based water resources consultant Bonny Starr reported on her firm’s recent study of water flowing from the Yuba-Bear River watershed into and through the PCWA canal system.  


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The report is an update to PCWA’s existing Yuba-Bear River Watershed Sanitary Survey, which must be updated every five years, under State Department of Health guidelines.

Starr said few changes were measured over the five-year study period and that inflow to the PCWA system is at very good levels, meets state standards, and carries low risk of any waterborne pollutants.  Starr noted that E. Coli values in the untreated water in the Boardman Canal increase as the water flows from higher in the watershed to lower areas that are more populated.  However, E. Coli detections in the Boardman Canal above Auburn revealed no clear source, she reported.

Samples of water coming out of water treatment plants after treatment showed very low levels of turbidity.  Starr termed PCWA’s solids reduction treatment as “terrific,” ranging from 98.3 to 99.7 percent, well above the required 80 percent level. 

PCWA’s location close to the mountain watershed reduces the chances for upstream pollutants to enter the raw water supply.  Potential sources of contamination on the watershed include herbicide use, livestock grazing, forest activities including timber harvesting, fire, public recreation, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, and spills in areas such as highways and railroads.

Completed in recent weeks, the report already has been accepted by the State Department of Health.  PCWA also supplies water from the American River watershed and is planning to update its sanitary survey in 2013.

In other business, directors:

  • heard a report from legal adviser Janet Goldsmith who is monitoring the planning of water flows for improvements to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Increases in flows to the Delta of water from the Yuba, Bear, and American rivers could have serious impacts to the people, wildlife and economy of Placer County, she said.
    PCWA and numerous north state government agencies and water purveyors remain concerned about loss of local water supplies to solve Delta issues.
  • approved a policy revision to allow for temporary water service to disconnected residential and commercial properties being inspected in connection with a real estate transaction.