Dos Palos businesses make changes due to water troubles


Dos Palos Pizza Factory owner Fernando Garcia says he and his employees have to fill up 5-gallon jugs with water from a neighboring town and transport them to the restaurant just to keep their doors open for business.

"That's the only solution we have right now, we haven't heard anything form the health department," Garcia said.

Water is back on in the city, but officials are advising residents to boil their water for at least a minute before drinking or cooking with it. And as about 1:30 p.m. Monday afternoon the Merced County Department of Public Health began advising businesses to shut off their water supply to food and drink-making devices, like soda dispensers and ice-machines, and to use an approved sanitizer when washing dishes.

That has forced businesses like this Subway to temporarily shut down.

"We're not relieving that until we know our situation is stabilized and we're able to send samples out to make sure they're tested and make sure there's no parasites entering the system," Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said.

Schools in the Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District also have to make changes to keep students safe while on campus.

"We put a plan together to have a lot of bottled water available for this morning and then the food service is doing what's called dry runs preparing breakfast and lunch that don't need water," Superintendent Brian Walker said.

Instead of cooking fresh fruits and vegetables cafeteria staff is using canned foods, and are serving pre-packaged meals like pizza and sliced carrots and celery to hungry students.

"Being the fact we don't know how long this will be, it's fortunate tomorrow is an order day for us so we'll be able to order supplies to carry out for several weeks if we need to," Walker said.

The city stopped handing out bottled water to residents after the water in Do Palos was turned back on. But families are being asked to conserve to bring the city's water level back up in these drought-like conditions. The city expects to have the filtration system repaired and back-up and running in the next few days.

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