Water was restored Wednesday evening to beachfront residents between the city of Ventura and Santa Barbara County, who had been without since a landslide knocked out a 14-inch steel water pipeline early Monday.
A boil-water order is still in effect until at least Friday, but residents of La Conchita, Mussel Shoals, Seacliff, Faria and Solimar Beach were able to flush toilets and wash up.
“After two days without water, you figure you better get to a hotel or something to shower,” La Conchita resident Amelia Alvis said early Wednesday. “But I hear that the water will be turned on tonight, so we’ll hold off another day.”
Alvis, 72, who retired to La Conchita in 1982, stood patiently at a 3,800-gallon potable water truck, filling up five one-gallon jugs.
“We have dealt with this before with the big slide,” said Alvis, who had stocked up on five gallons of water before Monday’s water main break. “So we were a little bit more prepared for it. Our neighborhood is one big family, so we help each other. We just don’t want to locate anywhere else. We’ll take it day by day.”
Monday’s mudflow occurred in an industrial area, about three-quarters of a mile south of the site where 600,000 tons of rain-loosened dirt crushed nine homes and damaged others in March.
No buildings were damaged in Monday’s slide, which started in a steep canyon about a quarter-mile from the Ventura Freeway and sent dirt and about 1 million gallons of drinking water through an oil refinery, over the railroad tracks and across the road until Casitas Municipal Water District workers were able to cut off the water flow.
The water that started coursing through pipes again Wednesday will be chlorinated, disinfected and tested to ensure that no bacteria is present and that the water is safe for drinking, said Dick Barnett of the Casitas Municipal Water District.
But the state Department of Public Health will have to certify that the water is safe before the boil-water mandate is lifted, Barnett said, estimating that Friday would be the earliest the order could be lifted for the 626 residents and businesses affected by Monday’s mudflow.
Meanwhile, water trucks will continue supplying residents with potable water at La Conchita, Mussel Shoals, Seacliff, Faria and Solimar Beach. An additional truck is roaming the affected communities to help supply elderly residents and others who are unable to get to the stationary trucks.
Tim Messina, with a potable water truck at Solimar Beach, said he has been swamped with residents and vacationers needing water.
“We’ve gone through a tank of water in two days,” Messina said. “That’s 4,000 gallons.”
The replacement of the ruptured water pipeline and the potable water supply will cost Casitas Municipal Water District about $100,000, Barnett said.