Is the City of Poway Responsible for the Losses Suffered by Restaurants and Employees Due to its Out-of-Compliance Infrastructure?

Former California Deputy Attorney General and Special Counsel to Johnson Fistel launches an investigation after hearing that the City of Poway has taken no action to help business owners and employees recoup their losses.
On Saturday, November 30, 2019, the City of Poway issued a “Precautionary Boil Water Advisory” after it discovered discolored drinking water coming from residential faucets. The City initially said the heavy, recent rainstorms compromised the potable drinking water system. Later it was explained that Poway’s drinking water was contaminated by a storm water backup error at the city’s 10 million-gallon clear well reservoir near Lake Poway. The City said a faulty flap gate was to blame. It was “somehow stuck open” and when the storm drain backed up due to a heavy storm the faulty open flap gate allowed contaminated water to spill back into the City’s drinking water reservoir.
By Wednesday December 4, however, a state official at the Water Resources Control Board said Poway’s water storage reservoir is out of compliance which directly contributed to the contaminated drinking water. The City will be issued a citation for its violation of state standards.
Nearly 200 restaurants, bars, and other businesses that handled food were ordered closed by the county’s health department immediately after the boil water advisory. The restaurants finally reopened Saturday December 7, with owners and employees back at work, but concerned with the losses they suffered. “I made it a point to take my family out to dinner in Poway Saturday night to help restore revenues at restaurants and tips for employees,” said Tiffany Johnson, former California Deputy Attorney General and Special Counsel to Johnson Fistel. “The owner of the restaurant where we dined said the City has done nothing to help cover the loss of revenue and income.”
Johnson Fistel has launched an investigation into the matter to determine the cause of the water contamination and whether the City of Poway should compensate businesses and employees for the damages they suffered. If you have any information that could assist the investigation or want to know what your rights might be to hold the City responsible for damages flowing from its negligence, please contact lead analyst Jim Baker ( at 619-814-4471. If emailing, please include a phone number.
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Johnson Fistel, LLP
Jim Baker, 619-814-4471

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