In December 2019, the Solano Irrigation District lost a $14 million lawsuit in the electrocution case of two teenage boys, a tragedy that occurred in April 2019. Four teenagers were walking along an irrigation canal when a dog jumped into the canal. Two of them, Jacob Schneider and Jacob Hourmouzus, jumped into the canal to save the dog, and reached up to grab a bridge crossing the canal to keep from getting caught in the current. When they touched the bridge, it was electrified, and they were unable to release it. The two others that accompanied them eventually were able to knock them off the electrified bridge and call emergency services, but the boys eventually passed away at the hospital.

The electrified bridge was the result of “district workers improperly [bypassing] a circuit breaker that prevented electrical grounding and allowed the bridge to become electrified.”

Though this tragedy was obviously unforeseen and unintended, the families of the two victims hope that the fiscal consequences force the District to take precautionary measures in the future to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. As of December 12, 2019, it was unclear as to whether vandalism potentially played a role in the bypassing of the circuit breaker. Regardless, the district claimed to immediately have begun inspections of its 300 power stations “to eliminate the possibility of unknown hazards, and is pursuing a long-term modernization program of all of its electrical facilities.”

Read the full article ABC7 news article here.

Unforeseen risks and hazards to the performance of water utilities can affect not only water quality, but also the safety of workers and citizens. Evaluating the risks and preparing for the potential emergencies can improve safety measures. Read here about how AARC can aid in assessment of all potential risks and hazards for water utilities.