Fire hydrants replaced due to low pressure after Teague Tank shutdown

February 24, 2012
Santa Paula News

Taking a water tank offline ran into more problems than anticipated, including lowering fire hydrant pressure in some areas of the city.

But Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez said the department has been working with the Santa Paula Fire Department to make sure there is no danger in case of fire, including upgrading residential hydrants to industrial models while working on a fix.

The aging Teague water tank, which has an approximate 200,000-gallon capacity, is located in the area northwest of Santa Paula Hospital and just above Monte Vista Drive. The city launched plans to take the tank offline when it was notified in June by the California Department of Public Health that a Sanitary Survey determined the rusted tank was a potential health hazard.

State officials said in lieu of shutting it down the city could either repair the tank’s split seams and holes or initiate a thrice-weekly water-testing program. Yanez said the city water department’s Chief Operator Sam Hutton created a timeline to take the tank - slated for demolition for years - offline, which was submitted to the state in September.

“At the same time we worked on the other booster pumps in the area... the original plan was okay,” but once the tank was shutdown, Yanez said, “we ran into some issues.” An unknown number of fire hydrants between 10th Street and Bradley Street, about three blocks west of Santa Paula High School in the area “North of Virginia Terrace approximately,” said Yanez, lost pressure. 

Since the problem was discovered, Yanez said Public Works has been meeting regularly with fire personnel on the issue, and “We’ll continue to meet with them... we’re coming up with a game plan on how to alleviate the issue. We’re bringing a new tank online and have to do some hookups,” a project estimated to cost about $200,000.

In the meantime residents might see public works and fire personnel in their areas replacing fire hydrants with heftier models. And, noted Yanez, if there had been a fire incident, “Teague Tank is still there, there’s still water in the tank and if we had an emergency we would use that water... we just can’t use it for potable water anymore.”

Yanez said the department’s calculations for taking the tank offline did not show that fluctuations in pressure would occur, and the fire hydrant component remains the top priority. “We’ve made some changes in some of the booster stations up there already now and we’re going to connect the Fuchsia Tank to 10th Street, which will help with the distribution of water” and help raise the water pressure for the fire hydrants.

Residential water service might also have been affected: “We realize that some of the areas are not putting out the pressure we want, although we haven’t heard from anybody... but they may see something and if they do, let us know.” 

And that includes anyone that might notice water coming down the Teague Tank access road, as noted by some residents. “If someone sees water coming down there,” said Yanez, “please let us know!” 

Yanez said the city did not notify residents the Teague Tank was being shut down, “because there was no interruption in service” and it was not believed the tank being taken offline would affect residents.

The City Council will consider the costs associated with a planned booster pump station - the design is about 80 percent completed - and costs related to taking Teague Tank offline at a March meeting.

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