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More Barstow residents allowed to drink tap water again after ban

November 22, 2010 |  4:57 pm

State health officials Monday lifted a ban on more neighborhoods in Barstow as the local utility continued to flush its system of perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel and munitions that was discovered in the water supply Thursday.

Residents living north of the Mojave River will be allow to use their tap water again, but the heart of downtown Barstow remains under a "do not drink" warning and have been told not to consume the water or use it for cooking. The ban, imposed throughout the Barstow area Friday, was lifted on the western half of the city Sunday.

Golden State Water Co., the private utility that supplies water to the Barstow area and neighboring Marine Corps Logistics base, began flushing the water system Saturday night. Company spokesman John Dewey on Monday  said the clean-out effort is making “great progress” and they hope to rid the system of perchlorate within days.

Test results that prompted the water ban and a state of emergency in the San Bernardino County town came from samples taken at the neighboring Marine Corps base in August and were verified Thursday. Only one of 18 wells feeding the Golden State Water Co. system showed high levels of the chemical.

The Golden State Water Co. last tested its wells for perchlorate in December 2009 and was slated to repeat the test in December 2012, an interval that officials said complied with state regulations.
Perchlorate can interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland, which regulates hormones and growth. Readings from the well were more than 15 times the acceptable level for drinking water, a water company official confirmed.

In areas where the ban has been lifted, residents have been told to flush all water lines in their homes or apartments by running all hot and cold water taps for five minutes and to flush hot water into a bathtub until the water runs cold. They've also been told to toss any ice from icemakers.

-- Phil Willon