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Discolored Water Being Cleared Up, Official Says

Colton Planning To Flush Out City System

Jan 8, 2003 | San Bernardino Sun

Colton residents plagued for months and as recent as last weekend by discolored water, are being reassured by a city official that the problem was being resolved possibly for good.

Brown or yellow water gushed forth three times last month when some Colton residents turned on their taps, said Eric Fraser, director of water and wastewater utilities.

Brown or yellow water also plagued areas of Colton's west side including Arrowhead Regional Medical Center at 400 N. Pepper Ave. on Jan. 2.

By Tuesday, water delivery had returned to normal and tested negative for contaminants, Fraser said. Water officials would be looking at a universal way of flushing out the system, he said. "We plan to start a formal flushing program,' he said.

Mark Uffer, president and chief executive officer of the medical center, said this is the second time in four months the county hospital has dealt with brown water.

In September, after shutting down its wells because of perchlorate issues, the hospital began using the city's wells.

"About two to three weeks later, we noticed the water was brown,' Uffer said.

As a result, he said, hospital officials paid more than $7,500 to purchase new water filters and for water to flush out the system.

"When this problem resurfaced last week, our employees got real nervous about it,' he said.

Portions of the Colton's water becomes discolored when rust sediment that has settled at the bottom of wells gets into the water supply through flushing, Fraser said.

"The discoloration isn't a threat to public health,' he said. "It may be unpleasant to look at, but it is not unhealthy to drink.'

Uffer said the water was tested in both the hospital's lab and a San Bernardino medical Lab. Though the tests came back negative for contaminants, patients and staff were asked not to drink it, he said.

The hospital purchased significant quantities of 5-gallon bottles of water to be used for baths and drinking, he said.

"It appears to be clearing up now,' Uffer said Tuesday. "It just takes a while to flush out the system.'

Uffer said his biggest concern now is recouping funds spent on new filters, the bottled water and the water used to flush the system.

The city should be willing to pay, he said.

"This is the second time it's happened,' Uffer said. "At the very least, the cost will be double this time around.'

City Manager Daryl Parrish said he had scheduled a meeting with Uffer next week to discuss the matter.

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