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Water Quality Investigation Update


(This release is for Paradise only and does not include information for Magalia residents)

PID takes 54 water samples on the Skyway business corridor

Paradise Irrigation District staff took 54 more water samples yesterday; all on Skyway, as the water quality investigation in Paradise continues. The sample were taken along almost 12 miles of pipeline stretching from the bottom of Paradise at the Crossroads to where Skyway meets Clark Road at the 9100 block.

The Skyway water samples will be tested by a state-approved laboratory for benzene, a state-regulated organic chemical. These results will provide the District with information it needs to develop its strategy for identifying and removing potential contaminants introduced as a result of the devastating Camp Fire.

The Skyway test results will tell us how to proceed to ensure safe water for businesses & restaurants

Plan A (If all samples show a non-detect for benzene).

If all the Skyway samples show no sign of benzene the District will continue testing to ensure water stays safe to drink. District staff will widen the sampling area to test for contaminants  and will be working with the State Division of Drinking water to drop the do-not-drink order for sections of Skyway as restrictions are lifted for each pressure zone.

Plan B (If any samples come back showing benzene above the state maximum contaminant level (MCL))

If any of the Skyway samples come back showing any sign of benzene on Skyway, PID will take even more samples closer together to find the contamination. Once crews find the affected area, they’ll begin the work of eliminating any contamination and repeat the testing / eliminating process until all contamination is removed. 

Next Steps

A-Zone Pilot Testing Area

District crews are preparing now to perform similar testing in the District’s top pressure zone – A-Zone (see zone map below). Crews are working now to prepare and isolate possibly hundreds of test sites north of Wagstaff. It may take two weeks to prepare the entire zone for testing. Once isolated, the water will need to sit in each sample site for 72 hours to give any benzene an opportunity to leech into the water. Testing will be performed after this rest period and the District anticipates having a complete set of sample results for A-Zone by March 1, 2019.

We will have more answers on what to do for the rest of the zones after we get the results from A-Zone samples. This “pilot” testing area has many different types of pipe material installed over a span of several decades. District staff feels strongly that answers to many of our questions on how to proceed with ensuring safe water for all of Paradise will be found as a result of the A-Zone investigation. The District has a tentative plan to work through each pressure zone, starting with A-Zone and moving southwest through Paradise to find, clean and remove any potential contamination.

zonesZone Map

We ask for your patience as we gather investigation results over the next month. The District is committed to sharing the results of the investigation, our plan for response, the progress we make as we go, and our successes in restoring water quality with our customers in a transparent and informative manner.

Until a thorough investigation is complete, we urge the public to promptly report any noticeable odors or smells in the water supply to (530) 342-3101. And to continue to use bottled water only for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth. The health and safety of our customers is of utmost concern for the District, we highly recommend the following:

DO NOT drink your tap water. ONLY use bottled water. Bottled water should be used for:

  • all drinking (including baby formula and juice),
  • brushing teeth,
  • making ice,
  • and food preparation.

DO NOT try and treat the water yourself. Because of the nature of the potential water contamination, boiling or disinfecting your water will not make it safe to drink.


  • Do not allow pets or livestock to consume tap water.
  • Limit use of hot water. 
  • Limit shower time (use lukewarm water and ventilate area).
  • Use a dishwasher to wash dishes and use air dry setting. 
  • Wash clothing in cold water. 
  • Do not take baths. 
  • Do not use hot tubs or swimming pools.

Limit use of water for clean-up of properties and follow Butte County recommendations for protective clothing when on property (https://buttecountyrecovers.org/re-entry).
Important updates on water quality testing, water advisories for PID customers, processes regarding your meter and service, as well as important steps to take once we turn the system back on, can all be found at:
• Facebook @PIDWater
• Office Phone: 530-342-3101


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PID's System Recover Maps (Updated Weekly)

The following water system information is prepared and updated by PID and is subject to revision. PID does not guarantee the accuracy of this information nor its fitness for a particular use.

Service Lateral Sampling Map

Test results from water samples taken at the service lateral.

 The service lateral is the small pipe that connects your property's water meter to the main pipeline that delivers water to your neighborhood.

Mainline Sampling Map

 Test results from samples taken from the main pipeline that delivers water to your neighborhood.

Water Advisory Lifted Map

PID service connections where the water quality advisory has been lifted. 

Customers using water at these properties should be aware that while PID is delivering potable water to these locations, we can not attest to the quality of piping or water on the customer's side of the meter. Customer side plumbing is all the piping from the service connection point (usually near the street) to the home, including outside piping and irrigation, and is the responsibility of the property owner.


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Paradise Irrigation District (PID) would like to answer as many of our resident’s questions as possible regarding the benzene contamination. We will continue to provide more information as we learn more throughout the process. Below is information on why we believe the contamination occurred, what testing has been conducted and what those initial results are. It is important for our residents to understand, that these tests are only the beginning of the test and remediation process. It is PID’s goal to work with our community to identify all portions of the system that is contaminated and to remove all contamination from the system.

Why is there a contamination?

This is a rather new concern that has only been identified following a few large wildland fires in the last year. Evidence from recent wildfires suggests that benzene contamination occurs when properties with plastic pipes burn and there are water system pressure losses or periods of low pressure. When the plastic pipe melts there are little plastic particles from the pipe that can be drawn into the property owner’s water connection and sometimes past the meter and into the public water system.

Water Quality Testing to Date

Due to the recent concerns from other fires, PID and the State Division of Drinking decided to pull some initial water quality samples to see if similar contaminants were present in the Paradise water system. Our initial strategy was to pull samples from 17 different areas of the system, including three different types of plumbing systems. The following is a breakdown of those samples, where they were taken from, and the results for benzene.

Explanation of Acronyms Used:

  • MCL - The California Maximum Contaminant Level for benzene = 1 ug/L
  • ug/L – Microgram per liter (approximately 1 part per billion ppb)
  • ND – Not Detected

Transmission System (5 tests)
This is the large delivery system where water travels from Paradise Lake, through the treatment plant, and into town. It is made up of large-diameter pipes and large storage tanks. Regardless of where you live in town, water will probably travel through most of this system before it gets to you. We believe the water is safe and healthful from the Lake as it enters the system. PID will continue to test the transmission system to ensure it remains non-detect for benzene.

  • Pump Station 2 = ND
  • A Tank = ND
  • C Tank = ND
  • D Tank = ND
  • E Tank = ND

Distribution Systems (4 tests)
This is the subset of smaller piping throughout town that delivers water into your neighborhood. You and your neighbors may or may not get your water from the same distribution system. There are many factors that determine which pipes deliver water to your home. To date, only a small portion of our distribution system has water. Until the entire distribution system is operational, customers are cautioned to follow the instructions on our previous water advisories as conditions may change. PID plans to test many more samples of water as the system is turned on.

  • 3 tests = ND
  • 1 test; Lower Pentz Road = 1.1 ug/L.

Private Plumbing Systems (3 paired tests)
These systems are where the water is finally delivered to the customer’s home. Each property has a private plumbing system that starts from the PID meter and goes throughout the property.


Customer side of meter

PID side of meter

Off Upper Pentz Road

1.1 ug/L


Off Lower Pentz Road

15.6 ug/L


In the Valley View Area

0.8 ug/L


Next Steps

Although some of the tests came back as “Not Detected”, Paradise Irrigation District feels that even a few positive results means that we need to do more testing in order to ensure that water is safe at all meters. We also feel based on these results that benzene could be present on the customer side of the meter and not present on PID’s side. For this reason, we urge customers to continue to follow the instructions on PID’s most recent water advisory available HERE.

We are working with California’s Division of Drinking water to develop a water sampling plan that will help us find and remove the contamination. Once the contamination is removed, PID will continue to test water to ensure we are delivering safe, clean water. Once developed and approved, PID will share the sampling plan on our website and other social media sites.



Paradise residents will soon have more answers to their water-related questions. PID has been working with Sean Dingman from Websoft Developers, Inc. to develop an online water system map to show availability of water to neighborhoods, water status at parcels, and water testing results. We hope to have the map published by February 1st.

Green highlighting will indicate pipes that have been filled and parcels where customers can use water now. PID will also share water testing results on the map so residents can track the progress of the system as PID tests for and resolves water quality issues.

Thanks to Websoft Developers, Inc. who has donated their time and mapping technology to help our water system and town recover from the devastating Camp Fire.

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