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Is California’s Drought Affecting Bay Area Water Quality?

by / Wednesday, 29 July 2015 / Published in Healthy Building Inspections & Testing
bay area water quality

Is California’s Drought Affecting Bay Area Water Quality?

Throughout 2015, Bay Area water quality has been getting worse in some areas. Along with the numerous other issues associated with the California drought, low water levels in our reservoirs and aquifers may be causing a noticeable decline in the quality and safety of our tap water.

Contra Costa County, which is served by the Contra Costa Water District, gets some of its supply from the Delta. The district withdraws water through the Contra Costa Canal, which taps into the Delta not far from the saltwater-freshwater mixing zone. This puts Contra Costa water at risk for high salinity and high chloride levels, and water rationing has been prompted in the past due to excessive drought conditions.

EBMUD has also had issues with the quality of their drinking water. According to this article from the Contra Costa Times, EBMUD has received an increasing number of complaints about the taste and odor of their tap water. The poor taste and odor are most likely due to algal blooms in reservoirs, which thrive in lower, warmer waters.

Drought aside, health risks due to improperly treated tap water is always a potential concern. Most recently, residents in parts of Los Altos are now asked to boil their water before consumption because of discovered E. coli in the water system. E. coli is a dangerous waterborne bacteria that is associated with inadequately treated drinking water. You can read more about Los Altos water here.

Bay Area Water Quality and California's drought

Bay Area Water Quality and California’s drought

It is important to note the difference between water quality and water safety. Some bad tastes or odors in tap water may be unpleasant, but are not harmful. For example, the “hardness” of water, or the level of dissolved mineral in the water, can affect its taste, but not necessarily its overall safety. Other contaminants like lead or E. coli, however, can be odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Poor water quality may also be a result of more localized problems, such as old pipes in your home leaching metals into your water, or sink and shower head fixtures leaching contaminants.

If you are concerned about your water quality, improvements can be made. Laboratory water quality testing can determine the constituents found in your tap water. A wide array of tests can be performed and we can help determine which tests are right for you. If problems or unwanted impurities are found in your water, different types of water filters can be installed in your home.

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