Lemoore officials say discolored water is safe

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The city is in the middle of fixing all the problems at once, but the $18 million project will cost users a 30 percent rate increase each year for the next four years. (KFSN)

Some residents of a South Valley city are worried about the color, smell, and safety of their water. But the city says it's safe and that it's not a new problem.

The water in a brand-new Lemoore pool is so brown you can't see the bottom. It's why the resident said she won't swim in it until it clears up.

"When you can't see it, it's not as obvious but when you look at it like this," she said. "This is really disturbing that we're feeding it to our kids and ourselves and we're cooking with it, bathing with it, feeding it to our animals."

Her water looks discolored when she fills up her bathtub and sometimes it smells like sulfur or even worse. And as far as drinking water goes, she said her family prefers bottled water. They're even considering investing in a water filter system for the whole house.

"I had never seen a water sample from the city this large," she said. "So this was kind of eye-opening for us as a family that this is what we're using in our day-to-day lives, that the water is that discolored and potentially toxic, who knows?"

"Because the standards have changed and how they're measured, we now don't meet the standard," City Manager Andi Welsh said. "The water is safe, it's safe to drink, and we're working on even making it safer and more reliable."

Welsh said Lemoore lies on top of an ancient redwood forest. Simply put, she said the fossilized wood causes the discoloration in the water and when they try and treat the water with chlorine, it interacts with organic materials and produces high levels of trihalomethanes.

The chemicals are not an immediate threat, according to a city water report, but over many years, it may lead to cancer or other serious health problems. The city is in the middle of fixing all the problems at once, but the $18 million project will cost users a 30 percent rate increase each year for the next four years. The city will then begin issuing bonds.

"So by bonding, we'll be able to make the payments on the bond from our utility payers, rate payers today, and into the future so that the system is paid for over a longer period of time," Welsh said.

The pool's chemicals and filter will clear the water up soon but it may be some time before the same can be said for the entire city system. The rate increases for Lemoore city water users start on January first of next year.
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