>Sonora / Tuolumne News, Sports, & Weather, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, Jamestown | Union Democrat

Sonora, CA forecast
& Northern California web cams

News Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Toxic waste dumped in TUD ditch

Toxic waste dumped in TUD ditch

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

Toxic chemicals were found in Tuolumne Utilities District ditch water north of Columbia last weekend and killed about 90 fish at the nearby Matelot Reservoir, forming white, thick, sticky clumps and leaving an oily slick on the water.

However, TUD officials said the chemicals have been neutralized and tap water drawn from that part of the ditch system is safe.

TUD officials are waiting for test results, but General Manager Tim McCullough said someone probably dumped methamphetamine-lab waste into the water.

Originally built in the 1800s, TUD's 56 miles of open ditches provide drinking water for most of the county.

Although Columbia water treatment plant operators noticed a spike Sunday night in the incoming ditch water's pH level, TUD did not release information about the spill until yesterday afternoon.

McCullough said a spike in pH level is not unusual. When the dead fish were discovered Tuesday at the reservoir, district officials realized a contamination problem was likely, he said.

"Thank God we have good instrumentation and were able to detect this stuff," McCullough said. "Columbia is a modern plant — I would say the jewel of our system. It has all the whistles and buzzers, and they went off."

Water users who pump directly from the ditch should flush out their systems to prevent contamination, McCullough said. However, most contaminants have probably flowed on by.

While officials haven't pinpointed the exact dumping location, McCullough said chemicals definitely affected the Matelot Ditch below Italian Bar Road.

After learning yesterday about the spill, some TUD board members wondered if more should be done to protect the county's drinking water.

"What does it take? Are they going to wait for someone to get seriously ill and die before they take the water out of these contaminated ditches?" said Director Gary Walter.

A longtime supporter of piping the waterways, Walter said he has seen bathing dogs, dead cats and bloated, decomposing cows in TUD's ditches. Walter recommended saving ditch water for agricultural purposes and piping water to drink.


Follow UnionDemocrat.com

News
Local / Sports / Business / Stocks / News of Record / State / Nation/World / Obituaries / Submit News
Opinion
Editorials / Letters
Photos
Union Democrat Photos / Community Photos /
Classifieds
Search Classifieds / Jobs / Autos / Homes / Rentals / Place an Ad
Online Extras
Weather / Local Business Links / Community Links / Photo Reprints
Union Democrat
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Site Map

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:18:53 -0800