To the Editor: GM responds to water concerns

There were concerns and objections expressed at the Sept. 10 meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Water District Board of Directors, at the Sept. 20 meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority, and in the editorial section of the News Review (letter to the editor by Sophia Merk, Sept. 21, 2018) about water being hauled from the Indian Wells Valley out of the valley by PG&E. Perhaps an explanation of the work being done by PG&E will alleviate some of the concerns.

Snelson Companies is the contractor hauling water for PG&E. This contractor checked out two construction meters from IWVWD in July intending to keep one meter until Sept. 28 and the other until Oct. 25, according to the forms the company completed. Water for the project was loaded from fire hydrants in two locations. One of the construction meters being used for this project has already been returned and the second meter could be returned as early as this week.

I spoke with the project manager for Snelson Companies on Sept. 20, and he confirmed what was stated when the meters were issued. The water is being used to pressure-test the gas lines in the area beginning at Kramer Junction. Hydrostatic testing involves pressurizing a pipe with water to reveal potential weaknesses and is a proven method for verifying the capability of a natural gas pipeline to operate at a safe level of pressure.

Snelson’s project manager also confirmed that other water sources were tested and did not meet PG&E’s specifications designed to prevent contamination in their pipelines. For example, Boron’s water contained arsenic levels that were too high. He also mentioned that PG&E would be testing lines in the Ridgecrest and Trona area and that our location would be convenient for testing a significant portion of the project area. Last week, it was announced that testing is taking place along Trona Road from Highway 395 to Highway 178 for this purpose.

Following the 2010 gas line explosion in San Bruno, PG&E began an extensive testing program of its gas pipelines, and this project is the result of that program.

Earlier this month, there was a massive gas explosion in the Boston area resulting in one death and several injuries, along with a reported 70 separate explosions. Fortunately, these types of incidents are rare, but that does not belie the fact that proactive testing of the gas lines that serve our local communities is necessary to ensure public safety.

Donald M. Zdeba, general manager

IWV Water District

Story First Published: 2018-09-28