Craig notifies water customers after failing to meet state requirements; local officials say water supply is fine
A notice went out to Craig water users this week about a failure to comply with state testing requirements, but officials at the water department say there is no indication the city’s drinking water has been compromised.
Water and Wastewater Director Carl Ray emphasized that despite the notice, there is nothing to be concerned about in terms of the safety of city water.
The notice was sent out as a state requirement because the city didn’t get backflow test reports from the required percentage of commercial properties, Ray explained.
According to water plant staff, this does not mean any backflow preventers within the city’s water system have failed, just that some of the devices have not been tested. The city’s water supply is monitored at the plant, and staff does additional tests on the water each day to ensure water quality standards are being met.
Ray said the water department has not had any trouble meeting requirements, other than testing the backflow devices. The water department recently went through a sanitary service audit by the state, and compliance for backflow preventer testing was the only major finding.
“At the water plant, we drink the city water,” said Ray. “I am not really concerned about it. It’s something we are proactively seeking to prevent, and we have until October 2022 to correct it.”
The state requires 90% of backflow prevention devices to be tested annually, and the city water department is required to inform its customers if the requirement is not met.
The letter that was sent out also contained language that was required by the state, suggesting residents — especially those with severely compromised immune systems — use bottled water if they are concerned about a backflow event occurring.
“I am not recommending that you seek an alternative water supply, unless you are concerned that a backflow event could occur,” Ray said.
According to water plant staff, typically only commercial properties have backflow prevention devices. Ray said that notices have gone out to any businesses that may still need to get tested, and most of them are complying.
“I am not aware of any failures that we have had, and all the test reports we have seen have been passes,” Ray said.
Ray explained there was a change in the notification process over the past few years that led to failure in meeting the testing requirement.
According to Ray, the water department used to track commercial compliance for testing of backflow prevention devices. A few years ago the finance department, which handles all of the direct mailers, took over this tracking process.
It took a couple of years for the notification process to transition, and in the meantime, the finance department implemented a new software database. There was lots of data to migrate over to the new system, and during that transition some of the notices for commercial properties to get their systems tested didn’t get sent out.
Once all of the data was updated in the new system this year, city staff found that because people had not received notices, some commercial property owners didn’t get their system tested.
At this point, everyone who still needs to get their backflow prevention device tested should have been notified by the city. Anyone who fails to do this within the required time will have their water services shut off until they come into compliance.
Water department staff have received an influx of calls with concerns about the notice, and they are doing their best to follow up with concerns from the public. Staff anticipate being able to resolve the issue by October.
For more information concerning backflow testing, people can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-824-6340.
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