Due to a security lapse, a giant Marin County water tank containing 900,000 gallons of water and serving 61,000 residents was emptied because officials did not know whether or not the container had been contaminated.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s online website sfgate.com, on the evening of March 17, a hatch to one of the Novato water tanks was found open, along with locks that were broken on a property fence and an attached ladder on the side of the tank. Security officials were not sure if anything was put into the water, but the district decided to dump it anyway.
During these times of drought, some are skeptical of that decision and feel that the water should have at least been used for irrigation. Authorities claim the irrigation tanks were at full capacity and could not receive any more water.
Chris DeGabriele, general manager of the North Marin Water District in Novato, said that he couldn’t in good conscience let the water be used because of the unknown factor. “The decision we made was precautionary, to error on the safe side,” DeGabriele said. “Whoever this intruder was really wanted to get into the tank. That’s why we were so cautious.”
The amount, which represents 3% of the district’s stored water supply, is a lot to let go by the wayside, considering that tests on the water showed no signs of bacterial contamination. Novato residents told television station KTVU that they resent being told to cut back 20% on water usage while the city blows off close to a million gallons of water with no evidence that it was compromised. “I always hate to second guess the experts, but they did test it and did say it was OK,” opined Mike Holland.