August 23, 2007

laser show will replace the fireworks show due to perchlorate risks

People are starting to see the connection. When will congress which has two Perchlorate bills pending, both sponsored by Calif Senators Feinstein and Boxer, see the connection?

Novato drops Labor Day fireworks after concerns over water contamination

Joe Wolfcale
Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:08/22/2007 06:03:19 PM PDT

Novato officials have canceled the fireworks display at the annual Labor Day at the Lake celebration because a chemical that contaminates drinking water was found in lake water after last year's event.

Water samples from Stafford Lake taken after last year's pyrotechnics showed a trace amount of perchlorate, a chemical dangerous for human consumption.

Water district officials believe the source of the perchlorate was an unexploded shell or shell casing that contaminated water in one area of the lake. City officials said, however, the contaminant level was so small it did not pose a danger to humans or require official notification to state agencies that monitor water systems.

A three-dimensional laser show will replace the fireworks show.

"We can't have that in our water supply, so it's a big concern for the water district," Novato City Manager Dan Keen said. "We had discussions right after the event last year and we just didn't have the comfort level we all wanted to have to proceed. I've seen a preview of the laser show, so it should be pretty interesting.

"We'll still have plenty of kid-friendly stuff."

Nearly 5,000 people attended last year's celebration. To date, the event has raised $180,000, with the proceeds benefiting the Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department scholarship fund, Division Manager Katy Graves said.

"The fireworks was such a big draw for the event, we didn't want to lose it," Graves said. "We're really looking forward to the laser show and think it will be one of the first and biggest in the county."

Subsequent samples of Stafford Lake water showed no trace of the chemical. Water officials tested Stafford Lake after each fireworks show but found a high level of perchlorate only after last year's event, according to a Jan. 12 memorandum from Pablo Ramudo, water quality supervisor for the North Marin Water District.

Perchlorate breaks down slowly in the environment and is used primarily as a component of solid propellant rockets, missiles and fireworks. About 20 percent of Novato's drinking water comes from Stafford Lake; the rest comes from the Russian River.

"Our mission is to provide good quality water and we can't let entertainment get in the way of that," said David Bentley, acting general manager for the North Marin Water District.

"There are perchlorate-free fireworks made, but this is such an important matter, we didn't want to take any chances," Keen said.

Read more Novato stories at the IJ's Novato page.

Contact Joe Wolfcale via e-mail at

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