Livingston maps out plan to improve its water supply

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comNovember 12, 2013 

— Once it reduces water contaminants and adds more water capacity using a new well, the city of Livingston will be in good shape with its water supply, city officials said Tuesday.

A community meeting Tuesday night provided residents with an update on the city’s efforts to clean its water supply and find ways to meet growing demand. Officials said Tuesday there isn’t a production deficiency because the construction of a new well will add 1,200 gallons per minute of extra water.

However, the challenge might be cleaning up the existing wells, one of which is operating with four times the limit of arsenic. That well is operating with about 42 parts per billion and the limit is around 10, according to city engineers.

The city hired Gouveia Engineering, a Gustine firm, to analyze the existing eight wells and provide solutions for the contamination. Mario Gouveia recommended Tuesday that the city reduce the production of water from the well with the highest arsenic levels.

“The worst quality water comes from deeper wells,” Gouveia said, adding that the well’s production would be reduced from 1,300 gallons per minute to 900.

One well was abandoned about 12 years ago because of nitrates. Two are out of compliance with state health standards, one because it exceeds arsenic levels and one because it exceeds levels of manganese. Although the latter contaminant is not considered a health hazard, it can result in brown water and stain clothing.

Gouveia did not recommend repairing the well with the manganese problem, a project that could cost more than $1 million. Instead, he focused his efforts on bringing the well with high levels of arsenic into compliance and building the new well, which might become operational in the next few years.

The city has been given until 2016 by the California Department of Public Health to fix the well with the arsenic problem.

Gouveia also recommended building a centralized water treatment plant to eliminate contaminants from multiple wells.

Livingston was awarded $1.6 million in September through a Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development. The city will use the money for projects including the new well, to be located on the south side of town, close to Peach Street and Main Street.

City leaders said another contaminant, Trichloropropane, is also plaguing the water supply. TCP has been used as an industrial solvent, as a cleaning and degreasing agent, and in the production of pesticides. It is a man-made chemical that can cause cancer, kidney failure and tumors, according to the EPA.

Although the amounts of TCP in water aren’t regulated, the city is looking for ways to reduce it in its water supply.

“The reason for looking at addressing TCP is because it is a constituent that is going to be regulated,” said City Manager Jose Ramirez. “They just haven’t come up with the actual target limitation yet – the threshold which is the maximum contaminant limit.”

The City Council last month approved a $1.8million contract with a Manteca-based company, Conco West, to install a contaminant filtration system in one of its water wells that contains high levels of TCP contamination in groundwater.

The city’s water supply is exclusively groundwater, but Gouveia said there is a spare capacity of 453 gallons per minute. That water should be more than enough to meet the needs of the city, including expansion plans that include a new CVS store, Rancho San Miguel market and Auto Zone.

Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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