July 2018

N. Tustin Notes:

by Scott Logue

As the summer’s heat approaches and temperatures begin to climb, the annual debate over water usage will percolate to the surface once again. While we endure the inevitable news coverage, debates, political posturing and environmental scolding that comes with summer in SoCal, the Foothill Communities Association would like to present the often overlooked silver lining to these clouds, and suggest a more optimistic and upbeat take on our water situation. In particular, that we have some, it’s great, and it’s not poisoned like the water in Flint, Michigan. As Lisa Ohlund, general manager for the East Orange County Water District reports here, there is good news to be had about our water.

Drinking water safety is a subject that most people in the United States do not give a second thought to, and my industry takes a lot of pride in that fact.  That’s why we were as shocked as everyone else with the fiasco that happened in Flint, Michigan, where, in 2014, approximately 100,000 residents were exposed to lead levels that far exceeded the federally allowable limit.

When the City of Flint stopped buying water from Detroit and started up its old Flint River system again, the water was not properly tested and treated before it was delivered to the city. The new water ended up leaching lead from the city pipes, resulting in widespread public exposure to lead. 

Lead levels in the Flint water system are now testing below the federal limit, after the city returned to its previous water source and invested millions of dollars to upgrade its water infrastructure. The situation was, and remains, truly heartbreaking, as the extent and magnitude of the long-term health effects on residents will not be known for years to come, and it was totally avoidable.

In contrast, the water that the East Orange County Water District (EOCWD) provides comes from the same water sources we’ve used since our beginning: local groundwater and imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River. 

Get the lead out
This water is tested extensively for lead and other constituents, from its point of origin until it reaches your tap.  It complies with all federal and state drinking water regulations.  We publish an annual water quality report that provides information on the regulated constituents that are present and tested for, and where those constituent levels fall within the standards. 

State law also requires that every three years, EOCWD test for lead in residential water service lines. This involves collecting indoor water samples from 20 homes that were built during the 1970s and early-80s, when lead was a more prevalent component in plumbing lines and fixtures. The district typically collects samples from the same homes each testing cycle, to ensure continuity and consistency of results. 

EOCWD provides a collection bottle and instructs the homeowner to sample the first draw of water in the morning from a faucet that is used regularly, but where the water has been in the pipe for at least six hours. The water sample is then picked up by EOCWD and sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. 

The district is pleased to report that indoor lead level results have never approached the federal maximum contaminant level. In fact, they typically come back at “non-detected” levels.

While lead does not pose a threat to EOCWD’s water system, residents should always be aware of the materials that are present in the plumbing components that they purchase and install at their home. Also, when water has been sitting in the pipes for several hours, residents may further minimize their potential for lead exposure by flushing their taps for 30 seconds to two minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking. And, if you are holding onto some old plumbing parts in case you need to replace a leaking fitting, please note that as of January 2010, no fitting or solders containing lead can be sold or installed in plumbing in California.

Straight from the tap
The Los Angeles Times published an article, April 6, about the health benefits of drinking tap water. You read that right – tap water. According to Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and nutritionist, tap water is protective of the brain. 

“As it turns out, compared with, say, distilled or purified water, tap water generally contains minerals the brain needs to keep itself hydrated. As long as water districts filter out harmful substances like asbestos, lead and benzene, tap water is better for your brain than water stripped of all substances. Purified waters are just fluids…there is nothing hydrating there.”

EOCWD welcomes inquiries from our customers about their water and how the district manages and protects this resource. Customers can call me at (714) 538-5815 or visit eocwd.com. Drink up!