What Happened: Benicia Emergency Water Restrictions

By Taylor Rice

Bay Area officials have announced an urgent requirement for all Benicia residents to cut back on their water usage after a landslide damaged the waterline leading into the city. 

On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, a collapsed hillside near southbound I-680 and Gold Hill Road damaged the city’s main water line; about 9 miles outside the city’s limits. At around 8:00 pm, Benicia officials declared a stage 4 “Critical Water Shortage” alert. 

The city stated on their official website “benicia.ca.us” that all “residences, businesses, community organizations, schools, hotels and others” should consider reducing their water usage by 40%. Some of their recommended activities include: taking shorter showers, and using dishwashers and laundry machines with full loads only. 

Interim City Manager, Mario Giuliani, addressed the public, “We recognize we are asking a lot of our residents, businesses and community members,” he stated. “This is an extraordinary situation requiring urgent action to reduce water consumption. Our crews are working to determine the extent of the damage to the line that delivers our drinking water. We are asking that residents and businesses conserve water and be patient.”  

Some other water saving activities include: Keeping the sprinklers off; using leftover water to water your plants; turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.

During the closure of the line, the city of Benicia will be relying on water from Lake Herman. Officials state that while the water from Lake Herman may leave an “earthy taste or odor in tap water.” Despite this, it’s still safe to drink; meeting or exceeding all state and federal requirements for safe drinking water. The cause of the “earthy taste” is due to naturally occurring compounds such as organic carbon. 

Despite the reassurances, workers at Raley’s, a supermarket located in the Southampton Shopping Center, still report a large number of people lining up to buy bottled water. 

It’s still not clear how damaged the line is, and it is currently unknown when it will be fixed. The City of Benicia will send out regular updates and information through the news media, email news, city social media, and more. In order to receive emergency notifications sign up for Alert Solano at AlertSolano.com. 

Make sure to do your part, and cut back on your water usage. 

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