City Utility Director Updates Results on Water Surveys, Test Results in NE Fresno

Posted: August 1, 2016

FRESNO, CA – City of Fresno Director of Public Utilities Thomas Esqueda has completed an update on the testing of water samples collected from homes in Northeast Fresno over the past six months, as well as the results of the surveys received from the mailer on discolored water sent to homes in both Northeast and Northwest Fresno last month.

[NOTE: Mr. Esqueda will be available for interviews on this data tomorrow.]

The City’s investigation into reports of discolored water in NE Fresno started January 2016 in response to postings observed by the Administration on the neighborhood social media site, Nextdoor. Councilmember Lee Brand was also made aware of the Nextdoor discussion by an email from a resident. The City’s Director of Public Utilities, Thomas Esqueda, was notified and immediately began testing homes.

TESTING RESULTS

Since January 2016, DPU staff has been working with residents to schedule water quality testing for those homes observing discolored water. Through July 26:

  • 279 homes have been sampled at least one time.
    • 838 fixtures have been sampled in these homes.
  • 158 homes reported no detection of lead in any faucet.
  • 70 homes reported lead concentrations below the Action Level (AL.)
  • 41 homes have current water quality test reports showing lead above AL at an indoor fixture.
  • Of the 838 fixtures tested:
    • 592 of 838 fixtures showed no detection of lead, while another 169 fixtures showed some lead detection but below the Action Level.
    • Only 77 fixtures show results above the AL.
  • Of the 77 fixtures showing results above AL:
    • 43 Tubs (master or guest)
    • 19 Bath Sinks (master or guest)
    • 6 Utility Sinks
    • 6 Kitchen Sinks (now 4 after re-testing)
    • 2 Bar Sinks
    • 1 Shower
  • At this point, only 4 homes are reporting lead above AL at a kitchen faucet.
  • After recalibrating the chemical formula at the surface water treatment plant,
    • 10 homes that initially had reported lead above AL at one or more indoor fixtures have been removed from the list after re-testing.
    • 2 homes with a kitchen faucet that had reported lead above AL have been removed after re-testing.

We fully expect the numbers to continue to fluctuate as homes are tested and re-tested. Our goal is to continue to reduce the number of homes reporting lead concentrations at indoor plumbing fixtures that are used to draw water for cooking and drinking.

We are averaging 15 to 20 homes per day for sampling. Staff is currently making approximately 70 calls per day to schedule these 15 to 20 sampling appointments. The challenge with the appointments is the requirement for First Draw sampling, which requires that residents use no water for at least six hours prior to the sampling event, which generally requires sampling between 4:00 am and 7:00 am
.
In addition, a number of residents have postponed or deferred appointments due to scheduling conflicts, vacation plans, coordination with family, etc. Finally, we have a number of residents that inadvertently used water during the 6 hours prior to us arriving to collect the First Draw sample, and when we arrive at 5:00 am, we have to cancel the sampling event and reschedule.

SURVEY RESULTS

One of the requests made by residents in NE Fresno was to enhance the City’s public outreach to better define the universe of properties experiencing discolored water.

During the week of July 4, the City of Fresno mailed 45,397 post cards to residents in:

93650  758
93704  2,183
93710  5,693
93711  10,635
93720  12,661
93722  8,955
93730  4,242

The post cards provided residents in these Zip Codes the opportunity to report discolored water conditions to the City by phone (559-621-8610), by email (RequestWaterTest@Fresno.Gov), or by completing an online survey.

As of July 26, 2016, the City had received the following responses from the postcard distribution:

  • 833 responses to the online survey with 791 experiencing discoloration in one or more faucets.
    • 776 or 93.2% of all responses came from ZIP Codes 93710, 93720, and 93730 in NE Fresno.
    • The majority of those responses – 486 or 58.3% – came from 93720.
    • 172 or 20.6% came from 93710.
    • 118 or 14.2% came from 93730.
    • 9 responses came from ZIP Codes that were not mailed to (93660, 93705, 93726, 93727.)
  • 42 responses reported they were not experiencing discolored water at an indoor plumbing fixture in their home.
  • 654 responses to the dedicated phone line (559-621-8626)
  • 328 emails to the dedicated email address (RequestWaterTest@fresno.gov)

A number of residents used all three methods to communicate with the City about water concerns. The City is currently working through the survey responses, voicemails, and emails to determine the number of individual responses that used two or more methods, and the list of residents reporting will be adjusted to account for duplicate or triplicate responses.

In addition, a number of residents indicated in their survey responses, voicemails, and emails that they were not observing discolored water, but wanted to have their homes tested. Accordingly, the City will review the number of residents reporting no discoloration, and adjust the count to reflect only those residents observing discoloration.

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