Hanford’s water supply is now fully chlorinated, meaning its signature hydrogen sulfide smell may soon be a thing of the past.
Utilities Superintendent Mike Cosenza said the chlorination project was completed last Friday. While the project was aimed at bringing bacteria levels to state mandated levels, Cosenza said, the city has been hearing praises of residents for a pleasant side effect.
“What we’re getting is calls complimenting us,” Cosenza said. “The hydrogen sulfide smell has gone away.”
Last summer, test sites for several of the city’s water wells tested positive for total coliform bacteria, a harmless form of bacteria that can indicate the presence of more harmful organisms. In early August the city received notice from the state Water Resources Control Board of Drinking Water that an emergency 24-hour chlorine flush would be required.
The flush initially appeared to solve the problem but ultimately failed to bring the test results into compliance with state standards. By October, the state ordered Hanford to begin continuous chlorination of its water supply.
For several months, the city had been chlorinating the water using rented equipment that was being manually monitored by city employees. By December, an increased number of residents were calling the city to complain about black water in their homes, a side effect of mineral deposits in pipes breaking free.
Initially, some residents also complained of the strong chlorine taste in the water. The new computerized monitoring system allows the city to precisely control chlorine levels in different parts of town.
“By having that computer system, it takes the human error out of it,” Cosenza said.
Deputy Public Works Director John Doyel said the number of complaints has since decreased, but anyone continuing to experience problems with their water should contact the city.
Doyel said the ongoing costs of the chlorination, along with other budgetary factors, may require a rate increase in the near future.
“We are going to be starting to look at that,” Doyel said.
That discussion will likely begin in the next month or so. A consultant would be needed to conduct a rate analysis to determine whether the rate needs to be adjusted and, if so, how much.
Doyel said the city has not increased its water rates in about seven years. Current rates preclude the city from setting aside money for future capital projects, such as replacing a well if one goes bad. Additionally, statewide efforts to conserve water during the drought have decreased revenues collected from rate payers.
The chlorination project was budgeted at about $792,000. Doyel said the final billing for the project is expected to remain within the budget.