California

  • Court Rules Water Quality Must Come First

    California has been suffering an extended drought that has endured for three years. Recently, heavy rains have alleviated this some of this, but there is still severe drought conditions in many parts of the state. During this drought, the government agencies responsible for protecting freshwater systems that serve as recreational waters and sources of drinking water to Californian residents have simply failed to do so, with disastrous results.

    California's waterways are infested with more toxic algal blooms than ever witnessed before; many native plant and animal species facing extinction; and the livelihood of thousands of fisherman, who depend on salmon catches as their sole source of income, hangs in the balance.

    But last week, a federal district court ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency and California's State Water Control Board need to comply with the Clean Water Act, and must implement measures to address the devastating impact that waiving water quality standards in times of drought has had on water quality and natural ecosystems in the Bay-Delta, ultimately impacting the quality of water used as a source of food (fishing), recreation (swimming) and drinking water by local communities.

    California_Drought_Dry_Riverbed_2009 California lake bed drying up

    The court's decision was made in response to a lawsuit filed by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Defenders of Wildlife, and The Bay Institute.

    "We filed this action after the State Board made 14 separate decisions over the last three years that allowed massive state and federal water diversion projects in the Bay-Delta to violate more than 24 water quality standards," said Kate Poole, Senior Attorney, Water and Wildlife Project Director, Water program at the NRDC.

    The decisions in question were responsible for redirecting an astronomical volume of water to the corporate agricultural sector, putting environmental integrity and drinking water quality at risk. According to the NRDC, the volume of water diverted is so large that it could provide Los Angeles with water for at least two years.

    In 2014 and 2015, 1.083 million acre-feet of water was diverted, while in 2016 California's State Water Control Board allowed a further 258,000 acre-feet of water to be diverted from rivers, while simultaneously lifting water conservation requirements throughout the state.
    The Clean Water Act was implemented to prevent negative impacts on water quality by requiring the EPA to assess proposed changes to water quality standards, ensuring that any proposed changes do not have a negative impact on beneficial water uses, such as salmon habitat and drinking water, before they go ahead and implement the changes. The Act is in place to prevent precisely this kind of deterioration to water quality.

    Both the EPA and California's State Water Control Board failed to do this before relaxing California's water quality protection standards over the past three years, but according to Poole, the NRDC intends to make sure they do so in future.

    Source: NRDC

  • Water Reductions Responsible for Foul Tasting Water in California

    (This article was written per-California record rainfalls.) Water reductions at one of California's major reservoirs has resulted in consumers experiencing foul-tasting water.

    According to a statement by Catherine Alvert, Utilities spokesperson for the City of Palo Alto, which was recently published in Palo Alto Online: "Palo Alto and other local cities' residents who have been complaining about nasty-tasting water coming from their taps can blame it on water reductions from the Hetch Hetchy supply and blending from other sources." The Hetch Hetchy resevoir supplies drinking water to consumers in San Francisco Bay and surrounding areas, including residents of Palo Alto.

    According to Evert, the volume of water supplying the Hetch Hetchy dam has been reduced to 105 million gallons per day from its previous supply of 145 million gallons per day, and is being sourced from water held in surface reservoirs. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission didn't warn residents that this may affect the taste or smell of their water supply, but have since received several complaints in this regard, with many consumers questioning what was the situation with their water.

    According to James Keene, a City Manager for Palo Alto, using blended water sourced from local surface water supplies resulted in sediment being stirred up within a water pipeline, which has resulted in the unpleasant musty taste and smell of the water, which could potentially last for a few days while the water moves through the distribution network from the reservoirs and storage tanks to consumers in Palo Alto.

    Some residents in San Francisco also reported foul tasting water earlier this month according to a report in San Francisco News.

    While officials assured consumers that the strange taste and odor was not indicative of inferior water quality, they did issue a health advisory warning for highly sensitive consumers:

    "Some highly sensitive customers, such as those with compromised immune systems, can be affected by minor water-quality fluctuations, and they should consult with their physician to determine in general if they should be taking precautionary measures such as adding filtration devices, the city utilities department noted on its website."

    A good quality drinking water filter, such as the Berkey range of filters fitted with carbon or ceramic filter cartridges will be able to filter out the sediment that is causing the problem. Carbon filters are very effective at removing sediment as well as taste and odors that affect water aesthetics and make it unpleasant to drink.

    With the current drought and water shortage situation (which has improved significantly very recently), these kinds of issues may become more common. Investing in a water filter will alleviate any such issues that may arise from water reductions and blending of surface water sources. California residents can purchase either the Berkey Light or the Travel Berkey from the Berkey range of water filters for direct delivery to their door. Both of these water filters will effectively remove sediment as well as musty taste and odor from water, leaving consumers with pleasant tasting and smelling drinking water that is more appealing to consume. They will also remove a host of other contaminants commonly found in drinking water, which pose a health risk to humans.

  • California Municipal Water Authorities Cited For 1800 Violations (2012-2013)

    California's drinking water supplies exceeded safety limits for pollutants over 1,000 times during a one year period between 2012 to 2013, according to a recently released report that lists high levels of nitrates and arsenic as well as other contaminants.  The high level of citations violated federal safety standards, triggering a reporting requirement to the EPA.

    The report, which was conducted on behalf of the Californian Senate's Environmental Quality committee, forms part of the states wider efforts to improve compliance with safety standards set for drinking water following criticism of previous failings in this area.

    "Although the vast majority of Californians who receive drinking water from a public water system receive water that met quality standards in recent years, there are still many who may have consumed unsafe water," Senate researchers said in the report.

    The report states that in 2013, around 98% of drinking water supplied by the California's public water utilities complied with safety standards set for drinking water quality. However, during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, state regulated public water systems that supply water to 38 million Californian residents faced around 1,800 enforcement actions from the state's water regulators.

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    According to the report, the contaminants mostly responsible for the violations included high levels of pollutants such as nitrates, arsenic, perchlorates (both from natural and anthropogenic sources such as chemicals used in explosives and rocket fuel), as well as radioactive minerals. Because there were more than 1000 incidents where California's drinking water violated federal safety standards, reports were submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    The contaminants originated from both naturally occurring and man-made sources. Nitrates, which pose a serious health risk, particularly to babies, tend to originate from leaking sewage systems, fertilizer run-off and erosion. Arsenic, a toxin that is associated with an increased risk of cancer, circulatory problems and skin damage, occurs naturally in soils and rocks, but human sources can add to these natural sources, pushing levels dangerously high.

    "Water is a basic human right and we need to do everything possible to protect it," said Senate Democratic leader Kevin de Leon.

    The State Water Resources Control Board plan to use the report to help guide policy decision-making so that it can roll out a plan to ensure residents are supplied safe drinking water. But while the powers-that-be ponder a plan, residents in California should carefully review their municipal water reports to determine if they are being affected. For those that are, one can take measures to ensure their drinking water is free from toxins by simply investing in a quality home water filter.

  • Many Californian Communities Depend on Contaminated Water Sources

    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.

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    “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.

  • Outdoor Berkey Water Filter Systems Can Now Be Shipped to California

    We have just been notified that as of 12/4/2012, we are now permitted to sell outdoor Berkey Water Filter Systems to CA (Berkey Light and Travel Berkey). Please see official California press release below.  If you intend to, or have placed an order for one of the "indoor" systems (Big Berkey, Royal Berkey, Imperial Berkey, or Crown Berkey), we would need an alternate address of a friend of family member outside of CA, who could then forward it onto you in CA.  This method of receiving the indoor systems is permissible.

    "As you know we withdrew sales from the California marketplace when their lead free regulations went into affect. At that time it was our, as well as many other firms, opinion that the Lead Free regulations were too ambiguous, the requirements were too cost prohibitive and that the compliance requirements made it virtually impossible for small and medium sized companies, domiciled outside the state of California, to be in compliance.

    Since that time however, the state of California has defined with greater specificity the requirements pertaining to this regulation. In reviewing the updated information and after consulting with our counsel, we have come to the conclusion that Berkey free standing water filtration and purification systems do not fall within the scope of those regulations.

    The other stainless systems cannot be shipped to California because they are listed as indoor filtration systems and California has other regulations that still affect some of the products. These regulations prohibit the making of any health claims, such as the removal of pathogenic bacteria, on residential filtration systems. These regulations do not apply to "outdoor" water filtration systems and is why these are now available. Until we have conducted a full review of those regulations, only sales of the following systems and products are now permitted to be made available to customers in state of California:

    Sport Berkey
    Go Berkey
    Travel Berkey
    Berkey Light (With or without LED lights)
    Black Berkey Filter Elements
    SuperSterasyl Elements
    PF-2 and PF-4 Filters
    All Replacement Parts

    Should you have any questions in this regard, please contact us at 877-992-3753 or customerservice@bigberkeywaterfilters.com"

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