Work on a temporary water filtration system in Dos Palos is expected to be done by Friday, according to police Chief Barry Mann.
"Everything's been approved with the contractors; they've been given the go," Mann said.
The city received approval to install a temporary system this week, so that contractors can begin repairs on the permanent system. Dos Palos closed the water pipes, cutting off the supply to residents, on three occasions last week.
Mann said the supplies used for repairs are en route to Dos Palos. If everything goes as planned, the boiled and bottled water order could be lifted as early as Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, he said.
Because the city shut down the filtration system, the Merced County Department of Public Health issued the order, which requires residents and restaurants to use bottled or boiled water for drinking or as an ingredient in meals.
Stopping the filtration system also restarts the 72-hour countdown that the state Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Management requires while it tests whether the water is drinkable.
Clogs from algae buildup deserve much of the blame for the city's recent water woes, according to officials. The algae clogs the filtration system, and last week plugged the intake siphon.
Dos Palos' system siphons water from the California Aqueduct, about 17 miles from the city limits. Workers had to reverse the flow of water to clear the siphon before restarting the system on one occasion last week.
Mann said the city does not expect to shut down the system any more during repairs, but would if water levels cannot keep up with consumption.
Algae blooms at a higher rate during years when the San Luis Reservoir is low and temperatures are high, according to some water district officials. This has been a dry and hot year.
The Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District has made special arrangements to feed its 2,300 students.
Last week, Superintendent Brian Walker said students were fed "dry run" breakfasts and lunches. He said the schools will continue to serve meals that can be prepared without water until the water is deemed safe.
Walker was not available for comment Wednesday.
Water was running last week at the district's five schools, so toilets were usable. The district rented 50 portable toilets as a contingency.
Officials also purchased pallets of bottled water, which were distributed to each classroom.
Residents have also been asked to refrain from using water unnecessarily while the system is upgraded.
Mann said water continues to be delivered or made available for residents in need.
Mann is continuing to ask residents to sign up for the Merced County Emergency Notification System. Mann said the system is used to notify residents of plans to shut off water, and will be used when the boiled and bottled water order is lifted.
"We will be utilizing that to give them updates," he said.
To sign up for text messages, emails or phone calls, go to www.co.merced.ca.us/alert.