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Water contamination notices spark confusion for McFarland residents

High Levels of nitrate were found in the Browning Road water well six months ago. Per state requirements, notices are still being sent out, but there is currently no nitrate in the water
Posted at 6:15 PM, Feb 22, 2024
  • Video goes into depth on the confusion that many McFarland residents have been experiencing when it comes to receiving repeated notices about nitrate being found in the Browning Road water well.
  • Mayor Saul Ayon tells 23ABC that the well has been shut down since October 1, 2023 and are currently looking for alternative options.

The Browning Road well came to McFarland in 2011 — the city’s newest well but has recently in the been shut down in the past six months after finding nitrate in the water. Although this well is shut down city officials this doesn't affect your drinking water.
"How many wells does the City of McFarland operate on?"

"Three,” said McFarland Mayor Saul Ayon.

Neighborhood News Reporter Ruby Rivera Interviewing McFarland Mayor, Saul Ayon about the well issue
Neighborhood News Reporter Ruby Rivera Interviewing McFarland Mayor, Saul Ayon about the well issue

"And so now we are down to…”

"Two,” said Mayor Ayon.

"How does this affect the residents?”

"As of now the water pressure has stayed steady,” said Mayor Ayon.

"Is the water safe to drink?"

"Absolutely,” said Mayor Ayon.

Speaking with the McFarland Mayor Saul Ayon, he says he understands the confusion that's been left on resident's door steps.

Mayor Ayon says when the nitrate was found in the water six months ago, notices were mandated by the state to be sent out.

"If one of those other wells goes down, we would have to use those wells and for them it’s better for them to notify the residents in case you know we can't notify them in time but as of now we have it on our social media on our website,” said Mayor Ayon.

Notice on drinking water saying there are high levels of nitrate
Notice on drinking water saying there are high levels of nitrate

The notice starts with a bold warning that nitrate had been found in the water and what to avoid but fails to mention that the Browning Road well was officially shut down October 1, 2023.

The mayor later sharing a different notice on February 20, which explains when the well was shut down and the actions that are being taken.

Mayor Ayon says samples from the wells are sent to the state monthly — and after the nitrate discovery in August, a second screening later solidified the city's decision to shut down the well.

"When we retested them in September again the levels came out to over — just over 10,” said Mayor Ayon. “And then we made the decision to shut down the well completely because during the winter people don't use that much water."

He says on top of the closure, the pump has been replaced and cleaned out, and the city has applied for state grants and programs with the end goal being to install a nitrate treatment facility or an entire new well — which could cost up to 7 million dollars.

"Were a disadvantage community and we need that funding so and they’re aware of it so we’ll see — time will tell as far as when they make that decision,” said Mayor Ayon.

The city is currently on a waiting list for state funding but are unsure of when those fundings will be released. In the meantime, the well will continue to stay shut down and will operate on the other two wells in the city.

Full Copy of McFarland Water Notice
Full Copy of McFarland Water Notice


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