Gardena water a cause for concern among residents; officials seek answers

GARDENA, Calif. (KABC) -- A mystery in the water pipes of Gardena had many residents second guessing drinking the water from their taps after they said a black substance started flowing from faucets and toilets in 2015.

A year later, Assemblyman David Hadley said water customers were still unhappy. After sending out comment cards seeking feedback, Hadley received 75 complaints in the past week.

"Dear Sir, my concern is I cannot use the water. Sometimes the water is very rusty," Hadley read.

The Republican legislator from Torrance said there were several comment cards that echoed the same sentiment. The responses baffled Gardena's water supplier Golden State Water.

"We talk to customers every day. I would say we have received a handful of complaints over the past six months," said Kate Nutting, General Manager for Gardena's branch of Golden State Water.

On Wednesday, an informal survey in the most impacted neighborhood showed mixed readings.

"Last year I remember the water was dark black. Really dark black," resident Sonia Leets recalled.

Leets said her water cleared up, but then a week ago she noted a dramatic change.

"To me it kind of looked like oatmeal floating around the water," she described.

An examination of newly poured water showed floating black particles in a bucket. Golden State Water cited many steps taken to improve water quality.

"We learned by flushing our lines very proactively we were able to clean the pipes," Nutting explained.

Golden State Water said aging pipes were being replace and supplies to some neighbors were being rerouted to minimize the amount of time the water stood in pipes. In some homes, water ran clear on Wednesday and neighbors stated they had no complaints in 2015.

Hadley said he sent his list of disgruntled customers to the California Public Utilities Commission. He also questioned hikes in the water rate.

"They have an obligation to ensure that water is meeting federal state standards for their service before they approve rate increases," Hadley said.

Golden State Water said higher fees were needed for improvements and the delivery of clear water. It said the dark substance from 2015 was from dirt in the pipes and was never a health hazard. In some cases, troubles were linked to the homeowners plumbing, the company said.

On Wednesday, Nutting urged residents with new complaints to bring those concerns to the company.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.