Algae in California Aqueduct causes water challenges in Dos Palos

DOS PALOS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A high level of algae in the California Aqueduct has caused problems over the past several days in Dos Palos.

City Manager Darrell Fonseca explains, "Our siphon intake at the aqueduct clogged, and that reduced our water supply, and then as we did receive the water it takes longer to treat at the plant. Fortunately, our system was able to handle it. It just takes longer, but it also meant reduced pressure to a lot of residents, and for a while, no pressure at all."

The city experienced similar issues back in 2013. Residents and businesses relied on bottled water until the aging filtration system could be replaced, using a half-million dollar grant.

Officials say that the new system is working, but they've had to take extra steps to cope with the clogging that comes from the state-maintained waterway.

Director of Utilities Craig Hackett says, "What they're doing is they installed a big 4-inch pump, and they're taking water from the aqueduct and feeding the system by hand manually, and they're back-flushing the siphon system that's coming out of the aqueduct here."

Hackett says crews have been working around the clock to keep the water pumping into their plant and troubleshoot any obstacles.

They've cut their response time down to less than an hour, and a third party company that tested the city's treated water last week confirmed it is safe to drink.

April Hogue is the owner of The Coffee Saloon as well as the mayor.

She empathizes with residents who expressed concerns during Tuesday's council meeting and says the city is committed to keeping them informed. She's also asking everyone to help conserve water.

Hogue says, "I was open the day that it kept going off and on, and it's really hard to make coffee when there's no water so I felt the frustration as much as everyone else, but it's still really important to conserve our water and that we are still going into a drought situation."

City leaders say they plan to work with state and federal agencies on solutions to prevent the siphon from clogging in the future.

In the meantime, they do have a mutual aid agreement that would allow for the use of canal water if a fire breaks out in Dos Palos.
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