Proactive and Voluntary Water Quality Testing: Emerging Constituents Program Task Force

A task force encourages collaboration among multiple agencies to tackle challenges in a cooperative manner. The Santa Ana Watershed Project Association (SAWPA) facilitates several task forces in order to take on complex matters that are more effectively handled collectively.

In 2008, SAWPA organized the Emerging Constituents Task Force in an effort to work with the Regional Water Quality Resources Control Board and help improve water quality along the Santa Ana River Watershed.   The 21-agency Task Force identifies emerging constituents of concern, which can include, chemicals of emerging concern, microconstituents, micropollutants, trace organics and other elements. The voluntary testing conducted by the Task Force investigates pharmaceuticals, pesticides, food additives and chemicals that may not yet have established water quality standards. By testing for emerging constituents, the Task Force is able to evaluate water quality in the Santa Ana River, in imported water, as well as in recycled water.

Emerging Constituents Task Force Goal: Assure water quality protection resulting from imported water recharge

  • Conduct regional evaluation of emerging constituents in drinking water sources
  • Identify the potential regulatory issues that may arise as result of emerging constituents data
  • Create an emerging constituent characterization programs as needed
  • Continue to educate the public about the safety of potable drinking water

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The Task Force used a two-phase approach to first investigate the potential contaminants in the water and then later identifying them. Beginning with researching potential regulatory issues associated with sampling and later investigating which constituents to monitor, the Task Force works to ensure that water that water quality is monitored. By partnering with water quality experts, SAWPA and the Task Force are able to determine the locations and constituents for testing. In February 2019, the Task Force reconvened to discuss prior testing results and determine what constituents will be monitored in the following round of tests.

Water testing can be costly, by working collaboratively, Task Force agencies cost-share the financial responsibility, as well as have access to the data needed for sampling and reporting of constituents. The Task Force was instrumental in working with the State Board’s Blue Ribbon Panel to develop statewide monitoring requirements for emerging constituents. In 2013, the State Board amended the state’s Recycled Water Policy to the adopt the recommendations made by the Emerging Constituents Task Force.

As part of the Task Force, outreach to build awareness on the safety of tap water is implemented. Through this blog and its social media channels, SAWPA and the task Force utilizes these tools to educate on the topic of water quality.