Problems We Found In Orange's Tap Water


Kezia Snipe  |  Hydroviv Research Analyst

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Orange's tap water, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of Orange Water Division, the city’s water provider, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we build for people who live in Orange are optimized with these figures in mind.

Source Of Orange Drinking Water

Orange’s water comes from three sources. The primary source is groundwater drawn from 14 municipal wells drilled about 1000 feet into the Santa Ana River Aquifer. Well water goes directly into the distribution system, is disinfected with chlorine and meets all state regulations. The second source is water imported by the Metropolitan Water District, from the Colorado River and from northern California (San Francisco-San Joaquin Bay Delta). Metropolitan water is filtered and disinfected with chloramines. Orange also purchases a small amount of water from the Serrano Water District. This source is primarily treated surface water, but also includes local treated well water.

Lead in Orange Drinking Water

Lead contamination in tap water is different from most pollutants, as lead comes from plumbing, not the water supply. 2019 lead sampling by the City of Orange reported a lead level at 3 parts per billion. However, this does not necessarily represent the lead levels at individual taps, and one sample tested exceeded the 15 ppb Action Level. EPACDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. In addition, Federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

Chromium 6 Levels In Orange Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. In recent years, Orange’s tap water has averaged 320 parts per trillion for Chromium 6. While they are in compliance with nonexistent federal and very loose state regulations, these levels are 16 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk.

Uranium in Orange's Drinking Water 

Uranium is a naturally occurring radionuclide typically found in groundwater. Uranium enters water by leaching from soil and rocks, or in releases from processing plants. Long term exposure to uranium in drinking water increases the risk of kidney cancer in humans. Uranium can also decay into other radioactive substances, such as radium, which has also been known to cause cancer. The current EPA federal standard for uranium in drinking water is 30 parts per billion. Uranium levels in Orange ranged from 1.23 - 9.07 in 2020.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Orange Drinking Water

DBPs (including Haloacetic Acids-- HAA5s, and Trihalomethanes--TTHMs), 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. In 2020 the level of trihalomethanes (TTHM) ranged from 6.8 - 48 ppb, with the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 80 ppb. The level of Haloacetic Acids were measured at 18 ppb, with a MCL of 60 ppb. 

PFAS in Orange's Drinking Water

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants commonly used in firefighting foam, Teflon, non-stick surfaces, stain-resistant surfaces, and food packaging. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined that PFAS exposure is associated with various adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, and developmental issues in infants and young children. 

PFAS is not currently federally regulated, but PFAS levels in drinking water above 70 ppt is considered unsafe by the EPA and CDC, and most agree the safe level should be considerably lower. PFOA was detected in drinking water at levels as high as 21.1 parts per trillion (ppt), while PFOS was detected with levels as high as 37.5 ppt.  Not all water filters are designed to remove PFAS from tap water. If you'd like to find water filters that remove PFAS from tap water, check out this Duke/NC State PFAS study. Hydroviv filters are NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified for PFOA/PFOS removal.

Still Have Questions About Orange Tap Water Or Water Quality In General?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water. The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Orange, but our filters provide broad protection against a wide range of additional contaminants found in Orange's tap water.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Orange's water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit, reach out by email ( or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook. We pride ourselves in being a reputable source of information on water quality, and your questions will be answered by scientists, not salespeople (we don't have any salespeople on staff).

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