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Is Sacramento County Wasting Water With Hydrant Flushing?

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Nick Janes Nick Janes
Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A CBS13 viewer contacted us wondering if the county was wasting water in his Mather neighborhood. We got a surprising answer from county officials.

In a time we’re all supposed to be saving water during California’s drought, George Mirjanovik couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“As our lawns are screaming for water, there’s thousands of gallons running down the drain,” he said.

He shot video of Sacramento County water crews flushing water from a fire hydrant in his Mather neighborhood.

“This thing was going for two hours and probably a few minutes after,” he said. “Full blast.”

To him, it seemed like a waste to have all of that water running into the street surrounded by dying lawns and a park that is drying out.

We went to Sacramento County Water Resources to get answers to what one official called “a very reasonable question.”

Division chief Kerry Schmitz says she isn’t familiar with this specific situation, but says in general the county flushes water lines to make sure the water is safe to drink.

“We have to flush certain areas of our system in order to maintain chlorine levels,” she said.

Then came a surprising admission.

REPORTER: So would you say that water was wasted here?
SCHMITZ: I would say that water was wasted, but probably down in Southern California there’s somebody that will eventually use that water.

She says the county faces an increasingly difficult balancing act between water quality and conservation. But she promises it’s now a priority to look into how the water could have been better used instead of letting it run down the drain.

One option the county has looked into, bringing in a tanker to store the water, is prohibitively expensive.

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