Tag Archives: Drinking Water

Update: Benicia Public Works restores water service near East 5th Street

Benicia Public Works crews worked around the clock to repair water main line break near St. Dominic’s School

A Benicia Public Works staff member assists in repairing a damaged pipe.
Benicia Public Works crews worked day and night to ensure St. Dominic’s School and the 800 and 900 blocks near East 5th Street have access to running water. | Uncredited image from Benicia City Government tweet.

By Nathalie Christian, May 18, 2023.

On the morning of May 17, 2023,  Benicia City Government reported via social media that a leak occurring in a water main around the 800 and 900 blocks of East 5th Street had left many residences and St. Dominic’s School without running water.

On Thursday, May 18, Public Works Director Kyle Ochenduzsko provided the Benicia Independent with following update via the Benicia City Government’s Twitter account:

Yesterday morning, a water main line break was detected on East 5th Street. City of Benicia Public Works crews worked around the clock to repair the line and restore water to affected residents this morning. Thank you to our dedicated crews!

Thank you, Benicia Public Works crews and staff!

Water main break leaves Benicia residents without running water (Update!)

Benicia Public Works Director promises to restore water service at St. Dominic’s and impacted homes, even if it takes all night

Map of impacted residences and buildings
This map shows impacted homes and businesses left without running water, as shared by the City’s Instagram post. | Uncredited image

By Nathalie Christian, May 17, 2023; updated May 18.

From the Benicia City Government’s Instagram account:

Early this morning, there was a water main break near the 800 and 900 blocks of East 5th Street. St. Dominic’s School and homes in the area are currently without water (see map of affected area). St. Dominic’s is closed for the day and parents have been notified. Public Works has begun working on the repair to restore water service as soon as possible. The repair is estimated to take several hours depending on the severity of the break. We will update the community when we have more information.

Responding to a request for an update, Public Works Director Kyle Ochenduzsko shared the following:

Crews are still working on the leaking pipe. Unfortunately, I do not have an estimated time to fix. If need be, our crews are prepared and ready to be working throughout the night to restore water as soon as possible.

As someone who has personally seen Mr. Ochenduzsko and his team in action, working tirelessly to fix a water issue that impacted my own home, I have full confidence that this issue will be resolved as swiftly as humanly and safely possible.

Benicia’s Public Works Department has consistently gone above and beyond to ensure essential infrastructure and services are safe and operational for Benicia residents. They deserve our support during trying times like these.

Status update

At 10:25 am on Thursday, May 18, Mr. Ochenduzsko provided the Benicia Independent with following update, available through Benicia City Government’s Twitter account:

Yesterday morning, a water main line break was detected on East 5th Street. City of Benicia Public Works crews worked around the clock to repair the line and restore water to affected residents this morning. Thank you to our dedicated crews!

Thank you, Benicia Public Works crews and staff!

A separate post announcing this update will be created and shared shortly.

Benicia Drinking Water Emergency – City working on a temporary bypass line

Water Transmission Line Incident Update

April 5, 2023

Benicia Proclaims Local Emergency; Announces Testing of Bypass Line for Damaged Water Transmission Pipeline

The City of Benicia proclaimed a local emergency following the break in its water transmission line when a hillside in Fairfield collapsed during recent rain storms.

The declaration of a local emergency will enable the city to use all resources necessary to repair the damaged water transmission pipeline. “It’s important for us to take this action so that the city can receive funding through the California Disaster Assistance Act and any other State and Federal funding that may be available,” said Mario Giuliani, interim city manager.

Benicia Public Works and various contractors are working on a temporary bypass line to regain access to the city’s primary water sources which are delivered via the damaged line. Designing the bypass began last week upon notification of the damage. Construction for the bypass line began on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 and is expected to be ready for testing on Friday, April 7. If testing is successful, then water transmission from Cordelia to the City of Benicia will be partially restored. While testing is scheduled to begin on Friday, it could take several days to fully assess the viability of the temporary system. Construction is now underway 24-hours a day until testing is complete.

“This is a highly complex project,” said Public Works Director Kyle Ochenduszko. “The bypass line is unique to the pipeline system and ever evolving circumstances. While we are confident that the bypass line will be successful, this is a situation with many variables,” he explained.

The bypass line is a temporary solution that will provide the community water while the primary pipeline is being repaired.

The bypass line will deliver water at a lower capacity than the main line. Benicia’s water source will still be coming from Lake Herman until the bypass line has been successfully tested. Benicia residents and businesses are still under 40 percent mandatory water conservation until further notice.

A special webpage has been established to provide a one-stop source for information about this incident. The site can be found at www.ci.benicia.ca.us/WaterTransmissionLine.

Social media posts, email notifications and other communications materials are being regularly distributed to residents and businesses as information becomes available. To sign up for emergency alerts, visit AlertSolano.com. To sign up for email notifications, visit www.ci.benicia.ca.us/announcements.

California shuts dozens of oil wells to stop wastewater injection

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

State shuts 33 wells injecting oil wastewater into aquifers

By David R. Baker, October 16, 2015
A person walks past pump jacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) Photo: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press
A person walks past pump jacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

California regulators on Thursday closed 33 oil company wells that had injected wastewater into potentially drinkable aquifers protected by federal law.

The new closures bring to 56 the number of oil-field wastewater injection wells shut down by the state after officials realized they were pumping oil-tainted water into aquifers that potentially could be used for drinking or irrigation.

All but two of the latest closures are in Kern County, in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley. One lies in Ventura County, another in northern Los Angeles County. Officials with California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources spent Friday verifying that they had, in fact, closed. Of the 33, only 21 had been actively injecting wastewater before Thursday.

“This is part of our ongoing effort to ensure that California’s groundwater resources are protected as oil and gas production take place,” said Steven Bohlen, the division’s supervisor.

California’s oil fields contain large amounts of salty water that comes to the surface mixed with the oil. It must be separated from the petroleum and disposed of, often by injecting it back underground. Much of the water is pumped back into the same geologic formation it came from. But enough left-over water remains that companies must find other places to put it.

Fears of contamination

The division, part of California’s Department of Conservation, for years issued oil companies permits to inject their left-over water into aquifers that were supposed to be off-limits, protected by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The problem, detailed in a Chronicle investigation earlier this year, raised fears of water contamination in a state struggling through a historic, four-year drought.

So far, however, no drinking water supplies have been found to be tainted by the injections.

Still, some environmentalists expressed outrage that so few wells had been closed.

The division has identified 178 wells that were injecting into legally protected aquifers with relatively high water quality, defined as those with a maximum of 3,000 parts per million of total dissolved solids. More than 2,000 other wells inject into aquifers that would be harder to use for drinking water, either because they are too salty or because they also contain oil.

“This is too little, too late to protect our water,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With each passing day the oil industry is polluting more and more of our precious water.”

The division reported Friday, however, that not all 178 wells required closure. Some had already been shut down by their operators, while others had been converted into wells for extracting oil — not dumping wastewater.

An oil industry trade group noted that all of the wells closed Thursday had received state permits, even if the state now acknowledges that those permits should never have been issued.

“Both regulators and producers are committed to protecting underground water supplies, and today’s announcement reinforces the seriousness of that commitment,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association.

Safeguarding water supplies

“California’s oil and natural gas producers are committed to operating their wells in a manner that continues to safeguard public water supplies,” she said.

Revelations that the division allowed injections into relatively fresh groundwater supplies touched off a political firestorm, triggered lawsuits, and led Bohlen to launch a reorganization of his staff.

More well closures will likely follow. Under regulations adopted this year, wells injecting into aquifers with water quality between 3,000 and 10,000 total dissolved solids must cease injections by Feb. 15, 2017, unless granted an exemption from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.