Some drinking water in Santa Rosa remains undrinkable months after the North Bay fires, and pressure is mounting on the city’s water department to locate and control the cause. “The city is very interested to get people back and rebuilt into their homes, of course, as soon as possible,” says Bennett Horenstein, the City of Santa Rosa’s Water Director.
Fire savaged the neighborhood around Fountaingrove parkway last October. Where more than 350 families once lived, 13 homes remain standing. In November, people returning to the neighborhood complained of foul smelling and tasting water.
Engineers for Santa Rosa’s water department isolated water service for Fountaingrove, in an aim to prevent wider contamination. The department ordered residents not to drink or boil the water there. Then its tests found benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer.
“This contamination is certainly attributable to the fire,” says Horenstein, “specifically the heating and burning of different plastic components in the system.” Initial sampling found benzene in the Fountaingrove water main, the local service components, and the lines that connected to destroyed properties.
The city has now gathered more than 300 water samples, examining them with the help of a forensic chemist. And water […]