Water problems plague LAX international terminal

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Associated Press

Posted on December 7, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 7 at 8:36 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brown water has led Los Angeles International Airport to temporarily shut off the supply at five gates in its international terminal, which is undergoing renovations.

The shutdown means carriers parking planes at those gates must use bottled water to replenish their on-board supply or transport water from other terminals using tanker trucks — a lengthy process that can delay flights, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Water inside the terminal, which is being renovated as part of a $4 billion airport overhaul, has not been affected.

According to airport emails obtained by the Times, the water is brown and contains high levels of bacteria and particles of copper, brass and rust.

The problem surfaced two weeks ago, and the airport originally shut off water to all 13 gates in the terminal. The shutoff is now limited to five gates — four new ones and one old one, officials for Los Angeles World Airports said in a printed statement Saturday.

The airport has tested the water and it is safe to drink, airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said. But low chlorine levels don't meet the standards of some international carriers, leading the water to be shut off at the five gates, she said.

"It is not unusual for plumbing in buildings to sometimes cause water to become discolored, resulting in conditions that reduce the amount of chlorine disinfectant present in the water," Castles said in the statement.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been asked to help determine the source of the water quality problems, but the issue is an internal one, department spokesman Joseph Ramallo said.

"There is no water quality concern or problem with the water supply provided to the airport or residents of the surrounding area from LADWP," he said.

Emails reviewed by the Times show airport officials have been concerned that there weren't enough water trucks to deliver fresh water to waiting international flights.

In one case, a Cathay Pacific departure was postponed for 41 minutes while the ground crew loaded the plane with bottled water, the newspaper reported.

This isn't the first time LAX has had to deal with water problems.

In March, airport officials handed out bottled water in Terminal 6 after recycled air conditioning system water mixed with potable water in the building's fresh water supply.

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