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City works to save trees while wells are down
The City of Turlock uses non potable water from several wells for landscape use. Two of the wells were taken offline after the casing collapsed in one and the other had a pump failure, causing watering issues at several Turlock parks, including Donnelly Park. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Although the City of Turlock has adopted the motto 'brown is the new green' when it comes to outdoor water conservation efforts,  city parks and landscaped areas in the north end of town are having trouble getting any water at all due to breakdowns at two non-potable wells.

Years ago, the City installed several non-potable (water not safe for drinking) wells in various areas of the city to be used exclusively for landscape maintenance. Three weeks ago, two of those wells in the northeast area of Turlock failed. According to the City, in one well the casing collapsed and in the other the pump failed.

“Having these critical wells out of service has stressed our trees and permanent landscape in this part of the City,” explained Allison Van Guilder, director of Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities. “The city and our taxpayers have made a huge investment in these landscaped areas and, with the non-potable wells down, these trees and plantings have been stressed to the brink. We are doing our best to save them and get these trees and shrubs stable, but with the ongoing difficulties with these wells, we are having to water outside of the prescribed times.”

In an effort to save the trees in affected areas, the City has been running sprinklers during day time hours, which is prohibited for residents. City staff have also been using trucks filled with non-potable water to irrigate trees along the Christoffersen Parkway median.

The City has received numerous phone calls regarding the use of sprinklers during day time hours.

“We appreciate when residents notify us of broken or malfunctioning sprinklers,” said Van Guilder, “but like your home sprinkler systems, we have to run the hundreds of sprinkler system stations and valves to check for leaks and repair the broken components. These tests and repairs usually occur during regular business hours and outside the prescribed watering times.”