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Earthquake: The Long Road Back : Simi Valley Warned to Save Water or Run Dry : Conservation: Residents told not to douse lawns or cars. Service fluctuates amid another major pipeline break.


As round-the-clock crews continued to patch Simi Valley's earthquake-ruptured water pipes, city officials stressed the need for conservation to stretch limited water supplies to as many houses as possible.

Early Wednesday morning, city workers papered the town with flyers urging residents not to water lawns or wash cars. And City Manager Lin Koester ordered the water shut off at the city's three golf courses.

Simi Valley's water service fluctuated widely on Wednesday. By midafternoon, city crews managed to restore low-pressure water service to all but a few of the 8,000 residents without water in city's eastern end.

But within hours, another major pipeline break disrupted water service across large areas of Simi Valley.

As of Wednesday evening, Mayor Gregory Stratton said, water normally supplied from Los Angeles County had been cut off and supplies from Bard Reservoir are not able to reach many households because of breaks in the line or incautious use of water.

The city's water district services about two-thirds of Simi Valley's 120,000 residents. The others are supplied by the Southern California Water Co.

A health advisory will remain in effect today warning Simi Valley residents to boil water before drinking it. Residents unable to cook because of gas shut-offs should add a few drops of unscented household bleach to their water, officials said. Add eight drops per gallon of water if the water is clear from the tap. If the water runs cloudy, use 16 drops. Allow the water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking.

Koester said about half of the city's estimated 15 water pumps were working, allowing delivery of about half the normal amount of water to the city. He said the pump failures may cause water to flow in fits and starts.

"This is a very serious problem. We're still finding breaks in the system," Koester said.

City workers will give out free drinking water, five gallons per household, at Santa Susana Park, Ralph's market in Wood Ranch, the city's Metrolink station, Royal High School and all elementary schools.

The Red Cross will also continue to offer bottled water at its emergency shelter at Royal High School.

And Southern California Water will fill containers for residents from a fire hydrant at Heywood Street and Bridget Avenue.

"One thing we want to say is we appreciate everybody's understanding and patience during this difficult time," said Charlotte St. John, a spokeswoman for Southern California Water. "We hope people will continue to be patient as we work out the remaining glitches and get things back to normal."

The city's water delivery system falls at the end of a series of pipelines that bring all of Simi Valley's water from a Granada Hills filtration plant run by the Metropolitan Water District.

The plant, which was shut down after it was damaged during the quake, should be reopened by Thursday, spokesman Bob Gomperz said.

"We've replaced a sheared section of pipeline and, if all goes well, we'll have the plant up and running soon," Gomperz said.

As water begins to flow through the pipes for the first time since the earthquake, new leaks may be discovered, Gomperz said. "We've got extra crews standing by to try to take care of leakage problems."

The Calleguas Municipal Water District, which links Metropolitan and the city water districts, was continuing to patch its pipelines, said advanced planning administrator Eric Bergh.

"We're doing a lot of work now," Bergh said. "But we're not going to know the full extent of the problems until we have the normal flow of water back in the lines."

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