Feb 01, 2018

Tubbs Wildfire Region Struggles With Drinking Water Contamination

The contaminate benzene has been found in numbers as high as 918 ppb in Santa Rosa, California.

Santa Rosa faces benzene contamination in drinking water

The Fountaingrove neighborhood in Santa Rosa, Calif., struggled with benzene contamination in drinking water systems. Santa Rosa Water Department has tried to contain the problem by replacing pipe systems damaged by the recent Tubbs wildfire, but the issue persists. Officials worry it may be necessary to completely replace the area’s water system if the source of the problem continues to evade detection.

The recent Tubbs wildfire damaged essential water infrastructure by melting plastic storm drains, burning holes in pipes and causing sinkholes to open up. While the water department has repaired these infrastructure issues, they worry that benzene has been absorbed by the piping system and continues to leach out into the drinking water.

The contaminated area now is 184 acres in Fountaingrove and approximately 350 homesites with 13 homes receiving bottled water from the city. The California water regulations limit for benzene is 1 ppb, however, some homes have showed numbers as high as 918 ppb. Even after replacing plastic service lines and flushing the system with fresh water, the contamination continues to gradually increase.