Holtville Water Supply Update

By Luke Phillips


At a meeting Monday the Holtville City Council told waterworks supervisor Frank Cornejo that they are interested in moving forward with the purchase of a UV light system to disinfect the city’s water supply.

The city was cited by the state last month after higher-than-normal levels of trihalmethanes were found in the water supply. The city is required to submit an Action Plan for how they are going to remedy the situation by September 21 and Cornejo says he’d like to include the UV system as a solution in the report.

“It would be a direct benefit to the city by helping us to reach our trihalomethane limits,” Cornejo said.

The state requires the city’s Action Plan to include a proposed timeline for the installation of the new system which Cornejo also provided.

The first step would be to obtain funding for the project. With FEMA footing the bill for the reconstruction of the city’s quake-damaged 1.5 million-gallon water tank, city staff is working to see if the UV system might be included with that project and be covered by federal funds as well. The city is also looking into other grant funding as a back-up plan, but expect to have some kind of funding in place by next April.

“This schedule was written on a worst case scenario,” Cornejo explained. “We wrote it as if FEMA won’t fund it. We gave a lot of time to find grant funding if necessary.”

Steps 2 and 3 would comprise the design and bidding phases of the project and would be completed by January, 2013. The fourth step, the actual installation of the UV system, would begin in January and last until July 10, 2013.

Council member Colleen Ludwig questioned the need for the UV system when the city’s water tank project is scheduled to be completed in late 2012, well before the UV system could be put into place. Cornejo reminded her that EPA requirements may soon become more stringent, requiring further decontamination than the city could provide without the UV system.

“That is on the horizon, so we’re thinking in the long term,” Cornejo said.

Holtville city manager Alex Meyerhoff praised Cornejo for being proactive about the situation.

City engineer Jack Holt told the council that the purchase, shipping, taxes and metering equipment for the UV system would likely cost about $240,000 not including installation costs.

The council voted unanimously to direct the city manager to look into the system and to allow a change in the scope of project for the city’s water tank project to include the UV system.

“If there’s anything that we can do to ensure the safety of our water supply, at any cost, I think we should do it,” Ludwig said.

Council member Jerry Brittsan also said that he would support anything that would allow the city to lower the levels of chlorine in the water supply, however Cornejo says it can never be completely eliminated.

“We are required to meet the state’s minimum requirements, even with the UV system,” he said.


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