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Water supply to Folsom restored

Repairs took longer than expected
By: Don Chaddock, The Telegraph
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The waterline from Folsom Lake to the city of Folsom has been restored, city officials said Friday morning. The pipeline that supplies the city with its drinking water collapsed Thursday morning, and water for city use had been coming from the city’s reserve tanks. Originally, city and federal officials planned a fix with a temporary waterline to operate by 10 p.m. Thursday night, but weather conditions slowed the work. The 42-inch steel pipeline that normally carries water from Folsom Lake to Folsom's water treatment plant was flattened like a pancake after contractors for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation created a vacuum while draining the pipe. The damage was noticed at about 5:30 Thursday morning. The contractors have been working to temporarily relocate the water pipeline as part of the Joint Federal Project, commonly known as the Spillway Project. Folsom Mayor Steve Miklos said the city's water supply was fine in a Thursday press conference, despite the crushed pipe. He said residents have been flooding city hall with calls asking about water quality and there is no need to worry. "There is no reason to boil the water," he said. "Our water quality is as good as it's always been." Mike Finnegan, area manager for the USBR's Central California office, said they should have a smaller bypass pipeline installed by 10 p.m. Thursday to keep water flowing to Folsom. As of 6 a.m. Friday, crews were still working to get the bypass installed. "We had already anticipated this line being down for 16 hours," he said. Approximately 300 feet of the pipeline was crushed and is "unusable," according to Finnegan. Folsom had already prepared for the construction by filling its tanks, according to Utilities Director Ken Payne. He told reporters at a news conference the supply should last until about 11 a.m. Friday. The pipe's collapse, while unfortunate, happened at a time when the city was ready, according to Miklos. "The damage is pretty catastrophic," he said. "The water quality hasn't suffered. We ask people to continue to conserve water. Refrain from doing any outdoor watering." He is not concerned about the city running dry. Finnegan was unprepared to lay blame on anyone for the pipe failure. "It is a Bureau of Reclamation construction job," he said. "There will be a subsequent investigation." Finnegan called it an "accident" and said they intend to find a longterm solution at a later date, probably in a month or two. Miklos urged residents not to panic. "People should still conserve based on our stage two to three alert," he said. "We have enough in the tanks." Folsom Prison is ready in case the pipeline isn't operational in time. "We do have contingency plans if this doesn't work out," said Anthony Gentile, spokesman for the prison. The pipeline is owned by the USBR, according to Finnegan. Folsom has been grappling with low water levels in Folsom Lake and is expected to declare a stage three water conservation alert by the end of February. Residents on the north side of the American River rely on the San Juan Water District and are not affected by the damaged pipe. Don Chaddock may be reached at donc@goldcountrymedia.com. Photographer Philip Wood contributed to this report.