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Treatment plan in the works for Hanford water

HANFORD — In light of current issues with Hanford’s water, the city is moving forward with a plan to treat water from three wells.

At the March 6 Hanford City Council study session, John Doyel, utilities and engineering director for the city, informed Council about a few water issues that have popped up over the last few months.

First, he said there was an arsenic violation at Well 50, which is the city’s newest well located at Ninth Avenue and Hanford Armona Road.

Doyel said when the well was built, arsenic levels were between eight and nine parts per billion (ppb) — just lower than the state’s legal level of 10 ppb; but after about four months, arsenic levels were at around 11-12 ppb.

According to the California State Water Resources Control Board, ingestion of arsenic over a long-term period can pose a risk of cancer.

Even after conducting several tests consisting of pumping the water at different levels or pressures, Doyel said arsenic levels still wouldn’t go under 10 ppb.

“No matter what we did, it didn’t comply,” Doyel told Council.

Doyel said there are now two options to eradicating the issue: treatment of the water, or going into the well and closing off some of the perforations in the upper strata where there are some of the higher arsenic levels.

If the city does the latter, Doyel said production will decrease. He said the well currently pumps around 1,700 gallons a minute and if perforations are closed, then it will only pump about 1,000 gallons per minute — without any guarantee that the process will lower arsenic levels.

So, Doyel told Council that city staff has been looking into different treatment options. The city currently does not treat any of its water (chlorine is used but is not considered a treatment by state standards).

The second issue is that the city’s water has high levels of total trihalomethane (TTHM). Doyel said TTHM is a combination of four chemicals that are a by-product of chlorine in water reacting to different organic and inorganic materials. He said the state allows up to 80 ppb of TTHM in water levels.

Some people who continually drink water containing TTHM for many years may experience liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems and a potential increased risk of cancer.

Doyel said there are four testing locations around town and the southwesterly quadrant near 12th Avenue and Hanford Armona Road failed the yearly average, coming in at about 100 ppb in TTHM levels.

“That’s not a huge amount over, but it means the state says ‘well since you went over for the year, now you have to have a plan to fix it’,” Doyel said.

Other surrounding areas, including Lemoore, are also having problems with TTHM in the water. Doyel said the reason behind the high levels of TTHM could be because the aquifers were over-pumped during the five-year drought and drew more organics into the water system.

Doyel said the water at Well 43, which is located near Centennial Drive and Greenfield Avenue, has a color problem and there’s a good possibility the color is caused by organics in the water system.

“That may be the smoking gun to the trihalomethane problem,” Doyel said, adding more testing is being done at Well 43 to see if staff can identify if that well is the culprit causing the problem with TTHM levels.

The third issue is that the city has budgeted for a well to be designed this year and built next year, Doyel said. He said with these new issues that arose, staff has been contemplating putting Well 37 back online instead of building a new well.

Well 37 is located at 12th Avenue and Hanford Armona Road and is not in use due to water color issues.

“If we’re going to be having to treat arsenic at Well 50 and potentially color at Well 43, then why don’t we try to get [Well] 37 back into play because it’s in that same area,” Doyel said, adding the area has problems with pressure at peak times.

Doyel suggested not building a new well and instead using funds to focus on treating the three wells. He said he thinks treating a portion of the flows at Wells 50, 43 and 37 will cause the total output of water to come in below compliance levels.

Council agreed with Doyel’s suggestion, and he said the rest of this fiscal year will be used for more testing and hopefully a treatment project will be ready to get started by July.

Doyel told Council that additional staffing and certification of staff will be needed because treatment requires more monitoring and work. He also said treatment requires significant expense and ongoing operational costs.

Financially, Doyel said city staff believes they can handle the issues without having to raise water rates for residents.

Local filmmakers seek extras for horror movie

HANFORD – Sometimes it’s fun to face your fears, and that’s exactly what film maker Michael Affrunti is asking locals to do this weekend.

Between 20-30 locals of all ages are needed to shoot a scene in Affrunti’s short horror film, “An Evening at the Theater.”  The scene calls for a movie theater full of corpses and will be filmed at the Metro 4 Cinema in Hanford.

“No one knows why, but [the main character] snaps and ends up killing everyone. It’s an idea I had that came from pet peeves I have about going to the theater,” Affrunti said.

Affrunti’s movie-going pet peeves are the same as anyone else’s might be, which may provide a kind of entertainment-based catharsis.

The film will see bloody ends for movie theater villains like the high school students who are texting and playing candy crush throughout the film, the alpha male who shushes everyone before the film has even started and, movie theater public enemy No. 1 – the couple with the crying baby.

Production will begin at 4 a.m. Saturday morning and is scheduled to be completed by the theater’s opening time at 11:15 a.m.

“Owner Matt Sconce has been wonderful,” Affrunti said. “We’re very grateful.”

There’s no pay, outside of the thrill of seeing one’s name and face on screen.  The director advises anyone who shows up to wear clothes they wouldn’t be upset to ruin with fake blood stains.

“It’s early in the morning, but it’s worth it if you get to see your name in the credits and your face on film,” he said.

In addition to being in the film, being an extra also affords people a chance to see the hard work and late nights that go into making an independent film.

“I think [extras] will find a fun and eye opening time in the realm of make believe,” executive producer Michael S. Rodriguez said. “It's really a bird's eye view of the film-making process as well as an individual contribution to the arts, so it's a win-win situation and I'd like to thank all that join us in advance.”

The film co-stars Felissa Rose, who horror fans know from her iconic role as Angela in the cult classic “Sleepaway Camp,” as well as roles in “Psycho Sleepover,” “Tales of Halloween” and “Victor Crowley,” which was released earlier this year.  

A soon-to-be-former Navy man, Affrunti has been stationed in Lemoore since 2002 and is scheduled to retire from service later this year. He now finds himself at the helm of his own short film, almost on accident.

Affrunti worked as a location manager and production assistant on “Lake of Shadows: The Legend of Avocado Lake,” a film directed by Rodriguez. And though Rodriguez will be producing “An Evening at the Theater,” that wasn’t Affrunti’s first choice of roles for him.

“I wrote it and threw it to him, hoping he’d make it and he called me one day to tell me they’d be making it and I said, ‘OK, so what do you need from me,’ and he said, ‘You tell me, you’re the one directing it,’” Affrunti said.

“When Michael pitched the story to me I felt his energy and passion for the horror genre and I just knew he could put it in motion,” Rodriguez said. “He pays great attention to details and that's important with telling a story in a short amount of time.”

The budget for the film is $2,000, an amount that Rodriguez said may sound like a lot to non-industry folk, but would barely cover lunch for a big Hollywood production.

After filming, the short will be sent to the editor and composer to be finished.  

The director, who credits John Carpenter ("Halloween"), Dario Argento ("Suspiria") and Joe D’Amato ("Erotic Nights of the Living Dead") as influences, isn’t yet sure when the film will be released or in what fashion. It could be released on its own as a short film, or it may be included in an anthology. He hopes it will be released sometime between summer and the end of the year.

Rural Crimes Task Force sees a rash of theft reports in February

HANFORD — The Rural Crime Task Force of the Kings County Sheriff’s Department had a busy month in February.

There had been six instances of theft, the task force said in a Facebook post on the Kings County Farm Bureau page. They were:

  • Netto Ag had a Kubota utility vehicle stolen from its dairy on Everett Ave. 
  • A Hanford resident had a New Holland tractor stolen from his orchard near the intersection of Excelsior Avenue and 21st Avenue. The tractor was later recovered in early March with the help of the Fresno County's Rural Crime Task Force.
  • Evangelho Seed and Farm Store and Stoney's Sand and Gravel had hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel stolen from their trucks and trap wagons on the same night. Both of the businesses have video surveillance of the suspect and suspect vehicle, but the suspect has not been identified or found. The task force does not want to give more information at this time.
  • There was a trailer stolen from a yard located near the intersection of 16th and Jackson avenues.
  • There was copper wire stolen from an electrician's business located in the 18000 block of Excelsior.

The Rural Task Force said it is currently investigating all of these thefts and have established suspects in some of these cases.

Kings County’s task force is currently working with the Fresno task force to find suspects and stolen property. Kings County’s task force will continue to work with all of the surrounding task forces to locate the suspects and stolen property.

Rod Shulman, the task force supervisor, suggests that people with large agricultural equipment store their equipment in a place that is secure.

In February, the task force also recovered some stolen items, including:

  • A stolen quad bike, which was returned to its owner, who also had a trailer stolen January from his fenced yard.
  • A Kubota was recovered from a January theft.

The task force also investigated the theft of over 600 bee hives from the state of Texas. With the assistance of a local beekeeper, they located the stolen hives, which had been brought here and arrested a suspect on suspicion of larceny.

To contact the task force with information about any rural crime investigations, call 584-1431.