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Mayor Vaus responds to Anderson smear effort over water quality question

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via City of Poway on Twitter: City provides bottled water for residents

December 2, 2019 (Poway) – One day after the city of Poway issued a boil-water advisory for tap water due to stormwater runoff contamination, the city issued a statement late yesterday indicating city tests have found chlorine residulals meet standards, “but that “The city is not able to rescind the precautionary boil-water advisory until the state is satisfied with testing results.”

In an interview this morning with East County Magazine, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus revealed, “We have isolated the source of the rain water. We have repaired it.” Though still awaiting test results from the state expected soon, Mayor Vaus says the water has been safe throughout the incident. 

“I’m drinking it now. I’m giving it to my pets,” he told ECM.

The boil water advisory was issued Saturday night as a precaution after some residents reported discolored tap water.  County Health authorities instructed restaurants to close temporarily. The Poway School District announced schools would be open today, with bottled water provided for children and lunch foods that require water prepared off-site.

Boil water notices are not unusual and have been issued routinely  in recent years for several smaller local water systems when contamination from storm runoff or other sources has been detected. The notices are typically lifted within days, after the problem is corrected. This is not  Flint Michigan, where lead contamination caused long-term water woes.

That didn't stop  Joel Anderson, a former Padre Dam Municipal Water District board member and former State Senator, from sending an e-mail blast accusing Vaus of a “failure of leadership” over the temporary boil-water advisory. Anderson is running against Vaus for San Diego Supervisor in District 2, where Supervisor DIanne Jacob is leaving office due to term limits and has endoresd Vaus.

“Vaus has turned Poway into a Third World country where the safety of water is in question,” Anderson states in his email sent to campaign supporters and media, further claiming that “Vaus ignored the basic health and safety needs of Poway residents.”

Vaus bristled at the notion of Poway as a third world city.  He told ECM that Anderson’s attack “is a politician doing what politicians usually do – flapping their lips about something they do nothing about. I’m doing what mayors do-- taking care of my city.”

The mayor offered praise for city staff and the community’s response.  “In my mind, the incredible story here has been how this community has stepped up.”Within hours of learning of the potential water problem, Vaus says, “We had tens of thousands of cases of water” which were given to the city’s residents and delivered to the homebound.

Residents in need of water can pick up bottles at Lake Poway and City Hall on Monday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Distribution information will continue to be updated each day.

The Mayor who drew national attention for his calm leadership after the Chabad synagogue shooting concluded, “Poway has been through much greater challenges.”

Steve Mullin, a Vaus supporter, fired back a testy response to Anderson's mass campaign email blast over the Poway water issue.  Mullin told Anderson this type of attack is "why your negatives are so high and so many people are uncomfortable with you.  Calling Poway a third world country is laughable - and to those of us who follow these things, the sign of a desperate candidate.  In any case, speaking as a Vaus supporter, keep up the good work. And, by the way, happy to have you tout your experience with Padre Dam, who has the highest water rates in the County."


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Residuals can vary due to many conditions. Healthy people may not be affected while others with medical problems may be at risk for harm.