Bypass in place, Dos Palos will begin replacing drinking water system

09/24/2013 8:27 PM

09/25/2013 7:44 AM

The temporary water system bypass is up and running in Dos Palos, and work is expected to begin today on replacing the clogged water filtration system, according to City Manager Darrell Fonseca.

The city is running the old system and the bypass simultaneously, trying to fill reserve tanks before work begins on the replacement.

The water filtration system in Dos Palos has been hindered by high levels of algae passing through, Fonseca said.

“The engineers wanted to make sure the bypass system worked without any flaws and that it was functioning properly,” he said. “It appears to be working quite well.”

Fonseca said replacing the system could become a two-week job depending on its condition when contractors open it. Water treatment continues to be sluggish.

The city has been sending daily reports to the state Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Management. Fonseca said seven days of testing have returned results clear of harmful bacteria.

Dos Palos closed the water pipes, cutting off the supply to residents, on three occasions earlier in the month. Fonseca said the pipes have been flowing without a shutdown for at least 12 days.

Because the city shut down the filtration system, the Merced County Department of Public Health issued an order requiring residents and restaurants to use bottled or boiled water for drinking or as an ingredient in meals.

The city continues to ask residents to conserve water. Residents had been asked to avoid water their lawns, but Fonseca said Tuesday that a light sprinkling is OK.

“As long as they’re not inundating, as long as they’re doing a light irrigation to keep the landscape alive, that’s allowable,” he said.

Clogs from algae buildup deserve much of the blame for the city’s recent water woes, according to officials. The algae blocks the filtration system, plugging up the siphon on one occasion this month. Dos Palos’ system siphons water from the California Aqueduct, about 17 miles from the city limit.

Algae blooms at a higher rate during years when the San Luis Reservoir is low and temperatures are high, according to water district officials. This has been a dry, hot year.

The Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District has made special arrangements to feed its 2,300 students.

School officials have fed “dry run” breakfasts and lunches. The schools will continue to serve meals that can be prepared without water until the supply is deemed safe, according to officials.

Residents who sign up for the Merced County Emergency Notification System can be notified of plans to shut off water, and be informed when the boiled-and-bottled water order is lifted.

To sign up to receive text messages, emails or phone calls from the county’s public safety alert system, go to

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