For years students at Nile Garden Elementary School have had to drink bottled water because of high arsenic levels in the well that serves the rural campus.
And while a 2015 decision by the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission allowed an out-of-agency water hookup to the campus because of student safety implications, the long-term prospect for providing clean drinking water to the campus – which is poised to undergo massive growth within its current boundaries over the next decade – were never clearly laid out.
Now that appears to have been solved.
A joint project between the City of Manteca and the Manteca Unified School District, discussed last week by the Manteca Unified Board of Education, will pave the way for a long-anticipated permanent connection to the City of Manteca’s existing water system that will supply the site with clean water from a new well being built in Palmer Park on Sephos Street.
The board voted 6-0, with Trustee Nancy Teicheira absent, to take public comment on the mitigated negative declaration document that had been prepared for the project, and short of accepting the findings the board had no comments on the issue. Nobody from the public spoke about the project as well.
With the new well slated to provide drinking water to new development in the area, the City of Manteca has worked with the district to come up with a permanent connection that will come off of the 7,200 feet of 12-inch water pipe that will be laid along Oleander, Peach and Union Roads. Roughly 6,600 feet of 4-inch pipe will run from the corner of Peach and Union Roads – where the junction to the City of Manteca’s water line will be installed – down onto Nile Avenue and eventually to the campus. All the 4-inch pipe will be constructed within the City of Manteca’s sphere of influence but is outside of the city limits, and as such the cost and the maintenance will be borne by the district.
All the water lines that will be built as a part of the project south of Peach Road will be owned, maintained, and operated by the district.
While arsenic is naturally occurring in groundwater in the Central Valley, agricultural pollution is believed to play a part in tainting groundwater sources when chemicals are used over an extended period – something that was exacerbated by the fact that the State of California lowered the acceptable threshold for arsenic, which rendered the well that serves the school inoperable for student consumption.
Bottled water was provided for students up until 2015 when LAFCO approved an emergency connection request by the district. Since then more development has been proposed and approved in the area South of the Highway 120 bypass, bringing the possibility of a standard connection into focus for the district which has had to wait until the property in that area developed for a more stable and reliable source of drinking water.
The document before the board last week was more of a formality in clearing the environmental paperwork associated with the project – having already had the backing of the board to enter into the agreement with the City of Manteca.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.