Water line break

Utility workers ruptured an unmarked water pipe six feet underground in north Angels Camp on Monday, and city and Calaveras County authorities put 1,800 Angels Camp residents on a boil-water notice through Thursday.

“We’re asking Angels Camp ratepayers to follow the boil-water notice for the next two to three days to complete necessary testing,” Melissa Eads, city administrator for Angels Camp, said Monday afternoon in a phone interview. “We anticipate lifting the boil-water notice Thursday and we’ll continue to update the public.”

Pacific Gas and Electric workers were doing something to a power line about 8:30 a.m. Monday when they inadvertently ruptured the City of Angels water pipe, Eads said. The Angels Camp water pipe was not marked, as it’s supposed to be to avoid accidents like what happened Monday.

Eads said she was just driving up to the location of the ruptured water pipe near Highway 49 and Copello Road at 4:25 p.m. to have a look at the situation herself. Eads said the city has 1,800 water customers in Angels Camp.

The county Office of Emergency Services distributed a statement for the City of Angels shortly after 2:30 p.m. Monday.

The boil-water notice is standard protocol for a water pipe rupture like the one that happened Monday, Eads said. The pipe break was about six feet under dirt on public right-of-way land near the intersection of Highway 49 and Copello Road.

The statement issued by the county Office of Emergency Services said that due to construction in the area, an unmarked water line was broken. City public works laborers isolated the broken pipe and city administrators issued the boil-water notice for all customers. County OES staff said the boil-water notice was made “out of an abundance of caution.”

City authorities are expected to do state-mandated bacteriological testing of water now. If and when results come back negative the boil-water notice will be lifted. County OES staff did not specify what city authorities are testing for. Bacteriological test results turnaround typically takes two to three days.

Chris O’Flinn,  chief water and wastewater plant operator for the City of Angels, said he and his staff will be doing two rounds of testing for coliform bacteria, which is standard protocol for a pipe rupture in the water distribution system.

Scientists say coliform bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans.

“We have to do two rounds of testing to ensure water is safe for drinking,” O’Flinn said Monday afternoon in a phone interview. “We’ll start the first round of sampling first thing tomorrow morning. The second round of testing will be Wednesday morning. We hope to have all the results back by Thursday morning.”  

County OES staff advised Angels Camp residents that pipeline work is often followed by discolored water. Opening and closing pipe valves to isolate an area of repair can cause water flow in pipes to speed up and slow down, which dislodges material on inside pipe walls.


Materials inside water pipes, including minerals, can cause pipe water to come out brown or other shades of color. Customers with discolored water can open an outside faucet at the lowest point on their properties and run it until water runs clear.

Anyone with questions or concerns was urged to call or email City Hall at (209) 736-2181 or COA@angelscamp.gov.


Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.


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