|Lake County Special Districts workers and a Dowd Construction crew working at the site of a leaking water main at the Lakeside Heights subdivision in north Lakeport on Friday, May 10, 2013. Photo by Garey Hurn.|
LAKEPORT, Calif. – Two leaks within the county’s water system were discovered this week as officials continue to try to zero in on what is contributing to a landslide at the Lakeside Heights subdivision.
A second leak detection test that revealed the previously undiscovered leaks was completed on Thursday at the north Lakeport subdivision, according to a Friday evening report from county public information officer Kevin Ingram.
Lakeside Heights, a 29-home subdivision located off of Hill Road, has been the scene of moving earth, several destroyed homes, and many more homes evacuated mandatorily or voluntarily since late March.
Lake County Special Districts, which oversees the public sewer and water systems serving the subdivision, had asked for the second leak detection test due to concerns that continual ground movement over the past month had the potential to compromise the water infrastructure, Ingram said.
A previous leak detection test, conducted on March 25, concluded there were no leaks in the public water system, suggesting instead that there may have been an issue with the homeowners association’s irrigation pipeline, as Lake County News has reported.
The two leaks found this week were both located on Oxford Drive, Ingram said.
He said Special Districts repaired both leaks on Friday.
Ingram added that Special Districts will continue to conduct regular monitoring of its system and perform periodic leak detection tests in order to ensure that continued slide movement does not lead to additional leaks within the existing public water and sewer infrastructure serving the subdivision.
Tom Ruppenthal, vice president of operations for the testing firm Utility Services Associates, oversaw the second round of tests this week.
He characterized the leaks as being “small in the scheme of things,” but added that he couldn’t discuss the testing further and that it would be up to the county to release his full findings.
Subdivision residents Garey Hurn and Randall Fitzgerald said they watched the testing and repairs this week.
The two men said it was estimated that one of the leaks, not far from Fitzgerald’s home, was putting out about 10 gallons of water a minute, with the second leak farther up the hill putting out about 20 gallons a minute.
Based on those amounts, Hurn estimated that during the past 60 days – a timeframe he is using based on the earth movement subdivision residents have reported seeing – the leaks have put out 2.5 million gallons of water into the hillside, which he said equates to roughly 125 swimming pools that contain 20,000 gallons each.
|Lake County Special Districts workers attempting to repair a leak in a 2-inch water line at the Lakeside Heights subdivision in north Lakeport on Friday, May 10, 2013. Photo by Garey Hurn.|
He pointed out that the estimated amount of water that’s saturated the ground is a much greater surface area than the compromised and slipping hillside.
“I’m thinking that volume of water is definitely a major contributing factor” to the landslide, Hurn added.
Scott Spivey, whose home on Lancaster Road slid into a hole that developed in the hillside, said the home had been there since 1985 and there was never a problem.
He’d lived in the gray two story home for 11 years before he started noticing sticking doors, stress cracks on the side of door headers and, then, the most significant damage, including a large crack on the home’s exterior.
Spivey and his wife were given a 48-notice the weekend of March 23 in advance of the home being red-tagged.
“This wasn’t a natural thing,” Spivey said. “There’s something going on there.”
His insurance company won’t cover any of the damage to the home, Spivey said, and that’s causing residents to consider taking legal action elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald – who has watched many of his immediate neighbors move due to voluntary evacuation orders – said Lancaster Road is breaking in two about 50 feet from his home.
“We may have only a couple of weeks before Lancaster is completely gone,” Fitzgerald said.
With the recently identified leaks now being fixed, on Friday fences were put up around the landslide area on Lancaster Road, Fitzgerald said.
Next Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will get another update from county staff on the situation at Lakeside Heights. Hurn said homeowners are planning to meet later that day.
At a previous homeowners meeting held last week, the group gathered names to place on a petition submitted to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office, asking that he declare an emergency in response to the situation.
Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.