Fresno homeowners not waiting for city to solve water issues

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The city has talked about loans or grants to help residents fix their plumbing problems, apparently caused by the city's corrosive water. But no action has been taken and residents are, so far, on their own with expensive repairs. (KFSN)

Some residents aren't waiting for the city of Fresno to fix the corrosive water destroying their plumbing and putting lead in their water.

The city has talked about loans or grants to help residents fix their plumbing problems, apparently caused by the city's corrosive water, but no action has been taken and residents are, so far, on their own with expensive repairs.

Twisted pipes on the ground are from the fixtures removed from the kitchen and bathrooms of Faith and Buzz Nitchke's home at Woodward Lakes. Plumbers are removing the faucets and all the plumbing because of lead in the water that's up to 42 parts per billion.

"Every tap they tested had some lead in it, and anything over zero is not safe," Faith said. "The action level and safe level are two different numbers. And we had lead."

"The action level is 15, and one of our bibs was at what 45, 42," Buzz explained.

The Nitchke's are among hundreds of northeast Fresno residents with lead in their water. It's coming from corroded galvanized pipes. The corrosion blamed on inadequate water treatment by the city.

It's a problem the city is working to correct by modifying the chemical mix. But the Nitchke's and several other homeowners have decided they can't afford to wait.

"We are like so many grandparents our grandkids come here and they drink everywhere, they drink out of everything so we are going holy smokes we hope nothing happens, so, we'll replumb it and do it that way," Buzz said.

It's a big job that requires bypassing the underground plumbing and putting pipes in the attic and down the walls.

"It's very inconvenient it's disrupting our house for at least two weeks," Faith said.

"This is day four and it feels like day 44," Buzz added.

"And then the clean up afterwards," Faith said. "I'll be cleaning for two weeks to get all the dust and everything, repaint walls put the sheetrock back, repair the damage to the tile. I mean it's a long afterwards after they are done replumbing - monumental."

And it's expensive. Jobs like this cost thousands of dollars. City Council member Lee Brand has proposed the city find a way to help, with loans or grants, but a decision on what if anything the city will do is months away.

"And that's going to be a question that's going to have to come back to the council," Brand said. "So I do believe to a certain extent the city is responsible."

The Nitchke's said they hope the city does the right thing but they are also part of a class action lawsuit which claims city negligence lead to the corrosive water problem. No matter the outcome of the lawsuit, they say they owe it to future generations to get the lead out.

"We would feel guilty selling our house knowing what we now know about this," Buzz said. "It seems like the more you know the more you are a little bit more fearful and you want to do the right thing so it's safe for everybody else."

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