East Bay residents first noticed a bitter taste in their tap water on Saturday. It takes about two days for the water to make its way from the Pardee Reservoir to the Bay Area and when it arrived Saturday there was a flurry of emails and tweets about it. Residents described the water as metallic tasting and pungent smelling when they turned the tap on. East Bay Municipal Utilities District effects the drinking water for 1 million customers.
East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) has flip flopped on key issues.
In response to complaints EBMUD said it usually draws water from lower elevation valves at Pardee Reservoir. Yet, last Thursday, March 26, staff began drawing water supplies from higher elevation valves. The operational change was made in order to meet requirements to preserve cold water deeper in the reservoir. Cold water must be released downstream later this year to improve river conditions enough for returning salmon to survive. The district has a legal obligation to release enough cold water each fall so that the fish can spawn, owing to a 1998 settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
On Monday EBMUD reversed the decision to meet requirements necessary to ensure that Salmon populations wont vanish and started pumping from the lower gates of the Pardee Reservoir in a temporary effort to provide clean drinkable water to about 1 million paying customers of the East Bay.
EBMUD reports that the tap water is safe to drink and use, and continues to meet all state and federal public health standards. By diverting some of the blame of the foul water to an ‘Algae Bloom’ the dialog in local news outlets is softening the realisation that the water necessary for ‘normal’ operation is just not there any more.
Bottled water in San Francisco is in high demand.
The residents noticed the bad taste last weekend. It's unclear how many people drank the polluted water.