East County water well shows high levels of uranium

DESCANSO - People living in part of East County are concerned that their water supply is showing troubling levels of radioactivity.

“My dad worked on the nuclear bomb, the Manhattan Project,” said Michelle Upczak, elevated levels of uranium in the water supply are a huge deal.

Not only is clean drinking water essential for her and her family's survival, but her animals' survival too.

“I've got chickens, dog's cats and so on," she said. "All of them have been drinking this water that's as far as I'm concerned way over the top, it's just a terrifying thought really. It's been going on a couple years and they've mislead us into thinking that we were safe drinking the water, so I'm concerned about drinking it."

The California Code of Regulations details the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for Uranium at 20 pCi/L."

The last three times Well No. 5 was tested—in July, October, and again in January—levels read between 20 and 23.

If the well tests at 20 or above in April, the town will have no choice but to stop drinking from their taps until the uranium levels drop to a safe level.

“Whether that means that they can't drink it, it will definitely mean they shouldn't is what I would say,” said Descanso Community Water District Boardmember Jeff Rozendal.

At that point, the contaminated Well No. 5 would have to be blended with the water from the non-contaminated well #6.

A new pipeline would be built to run from Well No. 5 to Well No. 6 about a mile away where a small water treatment facility would also be built.

The price tag is estimated at about $1 million, which officials say would be paid for by grants, loans and ratepayers in the district.

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