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City water not available for Nile Garden

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POSTED January 28, 2013 12:27 a.m.

Manuel Medeiros asked the question that was on just about everybody’s mind at the Tuesday night Board of Education meeting.

“Why can’t we just connect to the city?”

He was referring to the possibility of connecting Nile Garden Elementary School with the City of Manteca for water service, utilizing the $480,000 grant that Manteca Unified secured from the California Department of Public Health late last year. The purpose of the grant is to help Nile Garden acquire a safe drinking-water source instead of having the precious liquid being trucked to the school at cost to the district.

The Nile Garden area has, historically, used well water for its irrigation and domestic water supply. But the ground water is considered unsafe to drink because its arsenic content has been deemed to exceed safe levels for consumption.

Unfortunately, the district cannot simply use the nearly half-million-dollar grant for water-connection service. That’s because the grant has been earmarked strictly to conduct a study to determine the most cost-effective and feasible way to deliver safe drinking water to the school, with city connection as just one possibility.

 “Manuel is right on; this is the kind of thing that frustrates me,” Board President Don Scholl said reacting to Medeiros’ comment and to the state’s bureaucratic maze.

But because of state procedures attached to the grant, “we have to do it,” Scholl said, referring to the study requirement.

“I agree with every frustration you have,” but this is something that the Sacramento bureaucracy wants done, Superintendent Jason Messer told the board. “You can’t connect with city water until you do the feasibility study.”

There are “actually very few contractors” who do this type of work that NV5 (Nolte VerticalFire) has agreed to do for the district, added Messer. In fact, of the three consulting firms solicited by the district to submit proposals for the study, only NV5 responded. But they got the nod from district staff, which was subsequently approved by the board, because their proposal was “thorough and met the proposal requirements.”

The contract with NV5, which was unanimously approved by the board, is for $205,000. None of that is coming from district coffers. The entire amount is coming from the $480,000 state grant.

Part of the study process will involve drilling a test well in the Nile Garden School area to get a sampling of the underground water. In response to one of the questions asked by the board members, NV5 Engineering Manager Reid Johnson said they will dig a six-inch hole 200 feet into the ground to obtain water samples for testing.

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