A recently released report (details below) reveals that hundreds of Californian communities obtain their drinking water from contaminated groundwater sources. The report found that out of 3,037 community water sources tested, 680 were contaminated with at least one of the 31 principal contaminants listed, with nitrate and arsenic being the most commonly detected contaminants.
The study emphasizes that while these communities are dependent on this contaminated water, the affected water sources are subject to stringent water treatment processes and/or blended with uncontaminated supplies in order to render the water safe to drink.
According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 98% of Californians that receive water from a public water utility are provided with water that is safe to drink. However, the same cannot be said for those that depend on private well sources for their drinking water.
“Groundwater contamination remains a challenge, requiring effort by community water systems to ensure their customers are delivered water that is safe to drink,” said State Water Board Executive Director Tom Howard. “This report offers substantive data on the types of contaminants and the extent of groundwater contamination, while offering several options to improve water quality to those residents who need it most.”
According to officials from the water board, the majority of the affected community water sources are situated in the Southern California Inland Empire, the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, the Salinas Valley, and the Santa Maria Valley, with Tulare, Kern, and Madera counties being most wells.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that California will need to budget $40 billion over the next 20 years in order to upgrade and improve infrastructure to enable safe drinking water to be delivered to surrounding communities. The report does not take the quality of groundwater accessed by private wells into account, as the state does not require that these undergo regular testing to comply with EPA standards for drinking water.
If you obtain your water from underground water sources, particularly if you draw water from an unsampled private well, it is recommended that you have your water tested for potentially harmful contaminants that could pose a health risk to your and your family.
One way to ensure that harmful contaminants are removed is to filter all drinking water as well as water used for food preparation and cooking. As we reported a couple months back, the Travel Berkey and Berkey Light water filters can now be shipped directly to California for readers that may be interested.
Read the report: Communities That Rely on a Contaminated Groundwater Source for Drinking Water. State Water Resources Control Board Report to the Legislature.