The Water At Camp Pendleton Isn’t As Sh*tty As You Think

Jared Keller Avatar

Months after reports of “rats rotting on a reservoir gate, a desiccated frog clinging to a reservoir ladder and another rodent carcass” in the drinking water at California’s Camp Pendleton scared the living bejesus out of Marines, Corps officials insist that the base’s water supply is officially feces-free.

  • No shit: “There was no fecal matter found in Camp Pendleton’s base water system,” Camp Pendleton spokesman Marine Capt. Luke Weaver told Task & Purpose in a statement, almost exactly one year after an Environmental Protection Agency inspection found the base water systems “lacked adequate supervision and qualified operators for treatment and distribution” to its 55,000 customers.
  • A series of issues: The shit and dying animals aren’t the only issues facing the Pendleton water supply: A January 2018 report by the San Diego Union-Tribune found, among other things, a lack of inspections by both Corps personnel and defense contractors and “broken or nonexistent water level indicators,” both of which make monitoring the purity of sweet, sweet, drinking water a major problem.
  • Not totally clear yet: Weaver said that of the 49 samples taken from Camp Pendleton’s southern water system for testing this past April, only three showed the presence of coliform bacteria that, usually found in the digestive track of warm-blooded animals, is associated with the presence of feces. “The standard,” he said, “is that no more than 5 percent of the total number of samples collected per month test positive for that bacteria.”
  • But not for the reason you think: Don’t worry, according to the Corps; those sketchy samples are the result of “aging sample point infrastructure and improper disinfection of the infrastructure prior to sampling,” not the persistent presence of turds in your drinking water: “The drinking water is safe and compliant.”

For what it’s worth, “aging infrastructure” should be just as concerning as the dead rodents and brown buoys in the Camp Pendleton water system. Keep in mind that it took nearly four years to get the residents of Flint, Michigan, clean drinking water after evidence of lead poisoning first came to light — and state regulators won’t be able to fully replace lead pipes across the state until 2040. But lead is better than shit, I guess!