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City of Folsom adds new water treatment to mitigate copper pipe leaks

For months people in Folsom have been dealing with damages from leaky pipes so much so the city launched an investigation.

Water in Folsom comes from Folsom Lake. It is treated first and then ends up in homes and businesses. But somewhere in between the water getting from the lake to people’s pipes, the water’s PH levels are causing leaks costing residents thousands of dollars.

More than 1,000 people have reported pinhole-sized leaks in copper pipes in Folsom. The Willow Creek Estates neighborhood has reported the most 280 homes experiencing leaks. That is the neighborhood in which Bill Ferris lives, He told ABC10 he is now dealing with a second leak at his house.

"This cost me almost $10,000,” Ferris said.

Ferris’ master bathroom caved in from water damage and his garage ceiling is exposed to the elements with just a thin piece of plastic covering an area awaiting repairs.

“It’s costing me a lot more because we have to repair the damage,” Marcus Yasutake said.

Yasutake with the City of Folsom said the city has hired the construction engineering company Black and Veatch and Virginia Tech University to investigate the cause of the copper pipe leaks.

“There’s little organic material in the water. And what happens is when the PH gets to a level above 9 that interaction will pull pieces of copper from the interior of the pipe. And once that happens, it starts the pitting. When you get enough pitting it actually creates a pinhole leak on the outside and can be attributed to impurities in the pipe or sediment in the pipe as well,” Yasutake said.

To stop the high PH balance from damaging pipes, the city was been instructed to add orthophosphate to Folsom’s water treatment process.

“It can mitigate or even slow or eliminate the copper pitting from occurring whether it’s already started or whether it hasn’t started,” Yasutake said. 

The city was granted temporary approval to begin the new water treatment process. If allowed a permeant amendment it will cost the city almost $20, 000. But when it comes to who is at fault for the leaks, that is still to be determined.

“That’s something that will have to be discussed at the city council level, whether or not we are at fault. That is not for me to determine, that’s something the city council will take on,” Yasutake said.

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