Home Builder has lodged a complaint versus Water District claiming water supplied by the district is causing leaks present in domestic plumbing.

Santa Ana, CA: Two additional home builders already have filed claims in the Orange County Superior Court making claims the water supplied by two Southern County water districts has been corroding pipes, creating leaks that require hundreds of thousands of dollars in copper repiping repair and installations.

Shapell Industries sent in a complaint November 2, claiming tap water supplied by Moulton Niguel Water District to Shapell properties in two Laguna Niguel subdivisions; San Joaquin Hills along with Hillcrest were treated with chloramine, a chemical disinfectant which Shapell believed is known to cause pinhole leaks in the pipes of homeowners throughout the area.

The complaint states Shapell “will be required to restore and change out plumbing in over 500 houses” in those areas. The challenge wouldn’t designate what percentage of homes that have water leaks. The builder is looking for around $6 million in damages, citing defective products, neglect, private nuisance and breach of warranty.

MNWD provides service to 60,000 places of residence and corporations in Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills and areas of Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano.

“The only home owners filing a complaint with regards to a lot of these leaks live in homes constructed by Shapell throughout these pair of areas,” MNWD general manager Bob Gumerman said in a statement. “If the water is to blame, the problem would certainly be prevalent.”

Gumerman stressed the district’s water hits or surpasses federal and state water-quality requirements and safe for drinking and other uses. He explained Shapell has never provided documents on how MNWD’s water has caused pin-hole pipe leaks in households. Multiple phone calls to the lawyers representing Shapell were not returned.

Gumerman pointed out Moulton Niguel obtains its water supply using the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, who imports it coming from the Colorado River as well as the State Water Project, a program of storage facilities, tanks and lakes. As outlined by its web site, MWD makes use of chloramine, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, within the water treatment system to kill harmful bacteria in drinking water.

MWD also offers water to the Santa Margarita Water District, which usually services the remainder of Mission Viejo in addition to Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Ladera Ranch plus the Talega local community in San Clemente. MWD and SMWD were designated as defendants in a complaint filed Feb. 7 by Lennar Homes in relation to pinhole water leaks in aged pipes in the Verano area of Talega.

Lennar’s complaint alleges pipe leaks in galvanized pipes in 59 Verano locations “are a primary and/or alternative reaction to corrosive, aggressive and/orinaccurately treated water” delivered by the districts. Lennar is looking for the districts to become held liable for the water leaks as well as any fees, damages or debt settlements incurred by Lennar as a result of the water leaks.

Newmeyer & Dillion lawyer Carol Zaist, which will be counseling Lennar, said the developer is unable to discuss pending legal matters.

Newmeyer & Dillion also represents community developer Standard Pacific, which lodged a claim delivered to the district in February defined 74 households in Ladera Ranch and Talega where home buyers have complained of pinhole leaks in piping and accompanying property damage. The claim was initially denied by SMWD administrators, yet still the latest scientific studies may overturn this original ruling.

SMWD spokeswoman Michele Miller said the district doesn’t have to adjust or change the water furnished by MWD, even stating SMWD water complies with or is higher than domestic water quality conditions. As to the results of drinking water treatment options, “the district believes that there is no information to indicate this region’s water causes a corrosive influence on galvanized pipes.”

Marc Edwards is known as a Virginia Tech city and ecological engineering lecturer as well as nationally established specialist on pipe corrosion. A component of his tasks are to survey the causes of pipe failures and the ways to prevent them. He explained that multiple legal cases are developing in California and that he expects to be retained as an expert witness.

“We’ve conducted nearly more than a million dollars of analysis over the last six years,” Edwards explained. “We’ve acknowledged that water chemistry and harsh water are essential contributors of pinhole pipe leaks.

“We know that other factors are often times participating, such as severe velocity in pipes and below average installation techniques, therefore each individual claim normally requires pretty considerable forensic examination in an effort to assess the potential root cause and cures,” he added.

Edwards said the equivalent requirements carried out to make water safer may well be triggering pinhole leaks. Even though disinfectants are needed, too much in some waters might be corrosive. He stated studies on chloramine indicates it alone doesn’t create rust or corrosion in water lines, nevertheless “it is quite possible, even probable, that chloramine plus other elements in the water can be heavily corrosive.”

Though the District probably have great intentions, fluctuations in order to reach standards may perhaps be creating unintentional consequences, Edwards said.

“There is a whole lot we do understand,” he explained. “We have now unambiguously recognized that water might be a cause; not just one cause, but an underlying cause. There may be quite a bit many of us still do not know.”

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