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Staff photo by Jessica Cejnar
A Stater Bros. customer wheels a shopping cart full of Aquafina bottled water to the cash register Friday after Barstow residents were told not to drink tap water due to high levels of perchlorate contamination.

Don't drink the water

High levels of contaminant found in Barstow's water supply

Perchlorate information and health effects:

• Inorganic compound used in rocket propellant, fireworks, explosives, flares and matches.

• Interferes with uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland for both humans and animals.

• Reduces production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for growth and development in fetuses, infants and children as well as normal metabolism and mental function in adults.

• Women who smoke and have low iodine intake are most affected.

What should I do?

• DO NOT drink tap water or use it for cooking.

• DO NOT add tap water to formula or juices.

• DO NOT use ice made with tap water.

• Pets are also affected by perchlorates, so the same precautions apply.

• Boiling, freezing or letting tap water stand WILL NOT reduce perchlorates.

• Drink bottled water or bottled drinks such as soda.

• Water is still safe for bathing and washing dishes.

• For more information, call Golden State Water Company at 1-800-999-4033

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

BARSTOW • Residents of Barstow were warned Friday afternoon to avoid drinking or cooking with tap water provided by Golden State Water Company within the city of Barstow and nearby unincorporated areas because of high levels of perchlorate found during testing on Thursday.

Residents were told to consume only bottled water until further notice.

John Dewey, a spokesperson from GSWC, said that the company was going to alert customers through phone calls on Friday afternoon. He did not know when the alert would end but said that it would be in effect until further notice.

Dewey did not know where the perchlorate was coming from but said that he would have more information later. GSWC last tested for the perchlorates in Dec. 2009 and test levels were normal, according to Dewey.

The company tested for the perchlorates after tests at the nearby Marine Corps Logistics Base showed elevated amounts, said Dewey. Water companies are only required to test for perchlorates every three years if there are no previous issues, said Dewey.

Residents who want bottled water can drive to Barstow Community College and join the queue. One gallon of water per car will be given out. City officials are tentatively planning on providing water for the next 48 hours, although they advise residents that supplies will run out at times.

Several restaurants were closing their doors on Friday afternoon because of the order, although schools will be open on Monday.

Susan Levine, superintendent for Barstow Unified School District, said the students would be provided with bottled water and food would be cooked with bottled water on Monday. She did not know if GSWC would be providing free bottled water, but said the schools would have bottled water available even if the water company did not provide any.

Barstow Community Hospital has adequate stocks of bottled water on hand and has warned staff, patients and visitors to not use tap water for consumption, said spokesman John Rader in a statement. The hospital has also drained all of its ice machines.

Some residents were panicking about the order and bought as much bottled water as they could at different grocery stores on Friday afternoon.

Several local restaurants were affected by the water contamination on Friday and some closed their doors.

On a typical Friday most booths at Denny’s would be occupied with hungry customers, said manager Karla Diaz. Instead, she was using bottled water to cook for the few customers that were in her restaurant and turning away additional patrons before closing entirely.

Diaz found out at about 3:30 p.m. that the water was unsafe to drink, but she didn’t hear it from Golden State. She estimates that her business will lose between $2,000 and $4,000 due to closing early.

“We heard it from a customer,” she said, adding that many of the grocery stores were out of water. “I was on hold (with Golden State) for about 20 minutes. The lines were busy and I was told to call them back at 6.”

On the other end of town at Quigley’s Restaurant, owner Mike Lewis said he is serving his customers bottled water and other bottled drinks, but not tap water. Fosters Freeze, which Lewis also owns, is also serving only bottled drinks.

Because many of his customers are from out of town, Lewis said his servers are letting them know about the water issue. Quigley’s isn’t serving anything that has to be boiled in water.

It was unknown where the contaminants originated from on Friday afternoon, although the Marine Corps Logistics Base reported on Thursday afternoon that their water had been affected by perchlorates.

Rob Jackson, a spokesperson at MCLB, said that the samples taken on base show perchlorate levels three to four times higher than the maximum contaminant level set by the state. He also said that the base tests for perchlorate once a year.

Jackson said that the base was distributing bottled water to residents and employees.

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