Carbon plant doing its job

The July water samples from Fern Valley Water District’s granulated activated carbon (GAC) plant yielded unexpected and strange results, General Manager Victor Jimenez told the directors at the Aug. 23 board meeting.
“There must have been a bottle mix up at the lab,” he began.
The GAC filters remove the total organic carbon (TOC) from the water. In February, after the torrential rains, Strawberry and Tahquitz creeks, which are water sources for FVWD, were overwhelmed with TOCs. But the GAC filters did their job, which is why the July results were surprising, Jimenez said.
The TOC reading for water entering the plant was lower than the TOC reading for water flowing into the distribution system. Organic compounds are usually in the water at low levels. Districts treat the water to remove them. That is why the higher reading, after treatment, was puzzling to Jimenez.
He contacted the state water resources staff and suggested that the lab may have confused the inflow sample with the outflow sample.
New samples were taken and these results were in line with expected performance. The GAC removed more than half of the TOC entering the system, well above the state threshold, which confirmed that an error occurred during the July sampling and analysis, Jimenez stated.
Districts monitor the TOC levels, but there is no state mandated maximum contaminant level.

Jimenez also reported that the replacement of customer meters has almost been completed and expects the project to be done before October.
The next step will be to evaluate the meters at the district’s tanks and plants. For several months, Jimenez has questioned the district’s unaccounted for water percentage. One reason has been the number of older customer meters. These are not nearly all replaced. If they need replacement, he will then have new equipment and accurate measurements of water production and usage throughout the FVWD.

Finances and projects
The board also reviewed the final results for FY 2018/19. Total income was $1.54 million, about $130,000 more than projected. Expenses, including capital projects, totaled $1.35 million, resulting in a positive net balance of $190,000.
Reserves will decline this year as a large capital project begins ­— the replacement and installation of new pipelines in the Rim Rock and Azalea neighborhoods — Jimenez reminded the board. He expects work on this project to begin the first week of September. This project is estimated to cost about $1.2 million.

New hire
Jimenez also announced that a new field operator was hired, and he should start work in early September.