Water agencies warn of safety problems from blackouts

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Water agencies warn of safety problems from blackouts


Posted at 8:58 p.m. PST Monday, March 26, 2001

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- If water agencies aren't protected from rolling electricity blackouts, water might not be available for drinking and fighting fires, says a water agency group.

The Association of California Water Agencies is challenging a proposed state Public Utilities Commission ruling that would allow power to be cut off to water utilities. A decision that could come as early as Tuesday.

The PUC issued a draft decision March 16 proposing that water districts not be included as ``essential facilities'' exempt from power outages.

The association said Monday that many water utilities have backup generators, but said those systems were designed for use during disasters like fires, floods or earthquakes, not as alternative power sources.

If water treatment facilities were disrupted by a two-hour blackout, it could take two days to restore safe drinking water after flushing potentially contaminated water through the system, ACWA said.

Cutting off power to water agencies could also hurt fire-fighting efforts, the association warned. It represents 438 local agencies that together provide about 90 percent of the state's water.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), March 27, 2001

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