Rialto asks citizens to conserve water to avoid cut-offs

The City of Rialto, Calif., is calling on its citizens, businesses and public officials to begin immediately to curtail water use as much as possible.

RIALTO, Calif., July 18, 2003 -- The City of Rialto is calling on its citizens, businesses and public officials to begin immediately to curtail water use as much as possible.

Rapidly advancing perchlorate contamination and a five-year drought have reduced the city's water supplies to emergency levels. Several factors can contribute individually or in combination to cause water service to be suspended. These include, but are not limited to:

* Perchlorate contamination found in additional wells, forcing closure

* Mechanical failure at existing wells, slowing or stopping production

* Extreme or prolonged high temperatures

* Fires requiring significant water supplies

* Failure to reduce water consumption

* Third party pumping and exporting water out of basin

Free Low Flow Toilets/Shower Heads For Rialto Residents

To help residents conserve, the city has allocated $50,000 to provide free low flow showerheads, nozzles and toilets to Rialto residents. Home Depot has agreed to sell the city its standard low flow toilets and nozzles at cost. Residents can obtain the new fixtures at no charge by presenting proof of residency plus their old toilets or nozzles to the City of Rialto's Public Works department at 335 West Rialto Avenue. The City will provide the residents a voucher, which they can take to the Home Depot located at 1451 West Foothill Boulevard in Rialto to redeem their low flow toilets and/or nozzles.

Local Hospital And 1,000 Homes Are On Notice Of Possible Water Cut-Offs

The City of Rialto has notified Marygold Mutual Water Company, which serves 1,000 homes and the Kaiser Permanente hospital, that its water supply may be cut back substantially or interrupted.

What Citizens Are Asked to Do:

The hotter the day, the more important it is for individuals and businesses to conserve water.

* Remove old toilets/shower heads and replace them with free low flow models

* Voluntarily stop or reduce landscape watering

* Cover pools

* Don't wash cars at home; use car washes

* Don't leave water running in sinks or showers

* Only wash full loads of laundry or dishes

* Replace or repair leaky faucets and hoses

Background

Rialto does not import water from the state or the Colorado River. It relies instead on local water supplies. Historically, the city has always been easily able to meet local demand and supply water to a smaller agency, Marygold Mutual Water Company, which serves 1,000 homes and a hospital.

Because of the ongoing drought, the water levels in the city's wells have dropped significantly in the past two years. In addition, perchlorate, a chemical used as a rocket propellant, has seeped into ground water, forcing the closure of five of the city's 13 wells. Since 2001, the city has lost 40 percent of its water supply and the perchlorate plume is moving toward the city's wells at an estimated 3-6 feet per day.

The perchlorate is a propellant that is used in the manufacturing of rockets and fire works. Since the 1940's a number of businesses were located in Rialto to manufacture, store and ship weapons. It is believed that the perchlorate leached into the soil from 50 years of manufacturing in Rialto.

The city has contracted with a firm to clean two of its wells; however, cleanup is costly, time consuming and expensive. The city is actively pursuing state and federal funding to clean up the closed wells and perhaps stall the spread of perchlorate. Next week, a delegation will be visiting Washington, D.C. to meet with federal officials to seek help.

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