By Patric Hedlund, TME
On Easter weekend, April 16, a news reporter from Bakersfield’s KBAK-TV came up to Frazier Park to report about our drinking water.
The day before, on Friday, April 15, the Kern County Grand Jury had issued a report about Frazier Park Public Utility District (FPPUD).
It was a dignified report that indicated the water district was working to replace one of its primary wells. They said the district was well-managed and the board was being responsible. They did not indicate that there was any problem with the Frazier Park water quality.
KBAK-TV did not appear to consider that to be news.
Instead, the young reporter put people on camera to make comments that the reporter did not bother to make any effort to confirm. We’ll help KBAK out with that.
People who work at The Mountain Enterprise like a clean, refreshing, glass of water as much as any of our readers. All residents of this region are supplied by well water. We monitor the operations of eight Mountain Community water districts—both public and private “mutuals.” All have their own wells. One of them is supplying your taps right now.
This is groundwater, folks. The wells collect water that is squeezing through rock shale with minerals in it. Some mineral traces enter the water as it passes through. That is called “hard water.” Locally, minerals may include fluoride, uranium, calcium, even small traces of arsenic or other contaminants.
So by law, the California Department of Public Health mandates monthly tests of water quality at every public well. The test samples are sent to a commercial lab, with the results going directly to the state, to maintain strict quality standards.
Water companies process, filter or dilute water with that of other wells to be sure it meets healthy drinking water standards. Sometimes, as wells must go deeper, such as in a drought, the prevalent minerals change. A Piñon Pines well was drawing too much fluoride. They drilled a new one. Lebec had a variety of issues too. Mil Potrero Mutual Mutual Water Company dilutes its water due to one well with arsenic content. Lake of the Woods had a variety of issues, including one year when its primary well went dry and the annexation with FPPUD began.
In February 2019 Frazier Park PUD did a camera sounding in its very productive 60-year-old well.
A crack in the casing at 130.1-feet [see photo] was found. Their civil Engineer, Dee Jaspar, patched the casing to give the board time to find grants to replace the well.
The board is elected from residents of the district. They are all volunteers, who average a $100 per month stipend. They were successful in securing a $4 million state grant to replace Well No. 5.
In June 2021 though, before the bids could go out to drill the replacement well, a leak near…(please see below to view full stories and photographs)
Workers for Frazier Park Public Utility District repairing a water line break in Nov. 2020. All Mountain Community water districts are updating infrastructure. Millions of dollars in state and federal funds have poured into the area to upgrade their systems. All meet state health standards.
In February 2019, at 130.1 feet, a crack in the casing of Frazier Park’s Well No. 5 was detected when a video camera was dropped into the 60-year-old well. The casing was patched, while grant funds were sought to replace the well. No irregularities were found in the water.
In June 2021, the Nitrate level went to 10 parts per million gallons (ppm), the state’s legal limit. Four days later the well was taken offline when it ticked up to 11 ppm. But that was a temporary spike. The nitrate level fell to 9, then 8 and now 7.4 ppm. A grant has been secured. Now FPPUD is negotiating an easement to take a drilling rig into a new replacement well site. Meanwhile the water is safe and healthy to drink.
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This is part of the May 6, 2022 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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