Problems We Found In Irvine's Drinking Water
Emma Schultz, M.S. | Scientific Contributor
Updated July 19, 2019 to include current data
Our Water Nerds have updated our assessment of Irvine drinking water to include the most recent available data. We used information from the Irvine Ranch Water District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. Our team then cross references these water data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we sell in Irvine are optimized with these issues in mind.
Source Of Irvine Drinking Water
Irvine's drinking and tap water is a mix of groundwater- and imported surface water-based. 65% of the water supply is groundwater that comes from the Orange County Groundwater Basin, managed by the Orange County Water District. Water is pumped from a natural underground reservoir that reaches from the Prado Dam across northwestern Orange County. Additional groundwater originates in the Cleveland National Forest from the Harding Canyon Dam watershed. Roughly 35% of Irvine’s water is supplied by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, imported from the Colorado River (and transported via the Colorado River Aqueduct), and from northern California (via the State Water Project).
Arsenic In Irvine Drinking Water
Arsenic is a toxic heavy metal that can cause cancer and other health problems. Arsenic originates naturally in source water. Although Irvine's water quality is in compliance with EPA water quality standards, consumers should know that the U.S. EPA's standard balances toxicity against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water. Irvine’s most recent tap water quality report listed a highest level detected of 3.6 parts per billion, with a local treated groundwater average of less than 2 ppb. We strongly suggest that tap water with more than 1 part per billion be treated to remove arsenic, especially in homes with children.
Lead In Irvine Drinking Water
Lead enters into a consumer’s tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (such as recently happened in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water and can reach hazardous levels. Recent analysis for lead in Irvine's tap water found a 90th percentile concentration of less than 5 parts per billion. While the Action Level is 15 parts per billion, the EPA, CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no such thing as a safe level of lead. Of course, federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.
Chromium 6 In Irvine Drinking Water
Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that, while monitored, is not regulated by the EPA. Irvine’s tap water recently averaged 240 parts per trillion for chromium 6, with samples ranging up to 720 ppt. Average levels are 12 times higher (with the upper range 36 times higher) than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Irvine Drinking Water
DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that are created when chlorine-based disinfectants added to the water supply combine with naturally-occurring organic matter. Although these chemicals are not fully regulated, the EPA has explicitly stated that they are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Irvine’s tap water had a 2016 average tested across twelve locations of 57 parts per billion, ranging as high as 58 ppb. This is well within the Maximum Contaminant Levels for Total Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids.
Use Of Chloramine In Irvine Tap Water
While many cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, Irvine’s water is disinfected with chloramine, made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is the frequent problem when customers report a “bad taste” in their tap water, and unlike chlorine will not fade away if left in the fridge overnight. The recent chloramine residual for Irvine was 1.9 parts per million, with samples ranging as high as 11 ppm; while not a violation, this amount exceeds the maximum residual disinfectant level of 4.0 ppm. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that don’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for Irvine use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.
Still Have Questions About Irvine’s Tap Water?
Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water. The chemicals that we list above are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can build the best water filter for Irvine tap water, but all of our water filters provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals [including lead], pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).
If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Irvine tap water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.
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- Emma Schultz