Camanche takes closer look at water supply safety
Sept. 20--CAMANCHE -- Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida is pushing for the city to address issues with residents connecting a sandpoint well to their water supply.
Kida said the city's goal is to gain compliance with city code and Department of Natural Resources requirements that do not allow city water pipes and sandpoint wells to connect. Kida said connecting sandpoint wells and city water pipes leads to a risk of contamination of the water supply. Kida believes the city must do everything it can to maintain the integrity of the water system.
"Now we're aware and now we know we have to do something about it," Kida said. "And again, the goal is compliance. We have an obligation to do that. We have an obligation to these citizens to make sure they have a clean water system; these folks who are paying for water should have the certainty to know other people aren't connecting their sandpoint to the water system and run the risk of contaminating their clean water they're paying for."
Kida stated the city has the right under the code of ordinances to inspect for city equipment. Kida said in the ordinance it states the department head of public works, Mark Hilgendorf, has the right to inspect whether a sandpoint is connected to the water supply. Kida said determining whether there is an issue is determined by usage and reports the city gets from its system. The city sends a letter to a resident if it is determined they have high usage. Kida said when the resident is determined to have low usage they may send a letter or knock on their door to request to inspect the water meter in the residence.
"The bottom line with this specific article (in the city newsletter) is the integrity of the Camanche city water system," Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis said. "We have an existing ordinance already that disallows any common connection between a sandpoint and city water. That's already on the books. And since we have the ability to inspect our equipment if there is a red flag that goes up that says, hey, there's zero water usage here for days and days and days, that's a red flag. We knock on the door and we try to gain access so we can inspect and see what the heck's going on."
Kida said the city requests entry to the residence and if denied entry has the right enter the residence at 24 hours notice. Councilman Bill Wruck said "you don't go knock on someone's door and demand to come in unless you've got a search warrant." City Attorney John Frey said if the city is denied entry the city must use the court to obtain entry through an application to the court.
Wruck believes the city must also look into putting a backflow on water hydrants, stating he stressed this to the Hilgendorf and the city for the past few years. He said the use of a hydrant with too much volume coming out of a hydrant can cause a huge contamination problem. He said the city has issues with people using hydrants and filling tankers, trucks and vacuum sweepers. Wruck said there are companies and corporations who frequently use hydrants. Camanche Fire Chief Dave Schutte said the fire truck does not get filled without a backflow preventer.
"Most of the trucks we have typically they don't have a solid connection," Schutte said. "They have a built-in valve that dumps it in the tank that's separate so there is no back pressure. It's piped that way. So the line is not continuous so there is not backflow to prevent because it just dumps it in the tank. It's built in and it's separate so there's a gap in there that prevents it."
Kida said the backflow issue is also something the city needs to address but that does not take away from the sandpoint well issue, stating the city cannot turn a blind eye to the potential risk.
"The additional issue with this is people are using the two systems at the same time," Kida said. "When they use sandpoint water, the meter doesn't run. Then sewer is not recorded. But that sandpoint water goes down the sewer. That contributes to our sewer fund debt that we just tried to cover a couple meetings ago because we pay for that sewage to go up to Clinton. We get the bill every month based on what we send up there. If we're not collecting the proper amount here because the meters aren't recording then we're all paying for that when people aren't paying the right amount here."