County orders Arvin restaurants closed until further notice

ARVIN, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The way Arvin mayor Jose Flores sees it, Kern County Environmental Health inspectors have no knowledge of how things are done in his city.

"They have no clue how our city runs, how we manage our food," said Flores.

The mayor took exception to the action taken Friday afternoon by the Kern County Environmental Health Department. It ordered the closure of restaurants in Arvin because of potential water contamination.

Thursday evening, strong winds knocked down a tree in front of an apartment complex on the south side of Bear Mountain Blvd just east of Comanche Road. The tree's roots ruptured a 6-inch plastic water pipeline.

Crews from Arvin Community Service District were able to repair the damage, and water service was restored Friday afternoon. But the county health department issued a press release stating that potential water contamination occurred when the pipeline broke and the water system lost pressure.

The department said the water remains unsafe for consumption until testing reveals no bacteria present in the water. It advised that residents should boil water for drinking and cooking or use bottled water.

But, for restaurants, the health department issued an order that was posted on doors and windows. It reads: "This facility is ordered to close and remain until approval to reopen by Kern County Environmental Health. Closure due to lack of potable water supply. Bottled water is not an acceptable replacement for a water supply."

McDonald's, Burger King, Subway and numerous Mexican restaurants were dark as clients approached and then drove away once realizing the restaurants were closed. And the shutdown order is expected to last until at least Monday, possibly longer.

"For the boss, it's not that good, because she's losing a lot money these three days," said Salvador Abarca, a shift manager at McDonald's.

The mayor is also upset that no one from county environmental health notified the city of the shutdown orders. While water service has been restored, only environmental health can issue an order to reopen the restaurants.

"This is ridiculous," said Flores. "This is not the first time that a water line has broken."