Recent reports of Trichloroethylene in public water systems have been surfacing and gaining media attention. The Environmental Working Group, (EWG) a research non-profit agency, released an analysis of tests from public utilities nationwide. The analysis stated that approximately 14 million people are impacted by the carcinogenic pollutant, also known as TCE. They also conclude that a person drinking water at or below the updated guidance value, whether exposed briefly, occasionally, or daily for a lifetime would have little or no risk of health effects. Moreover, the trend for TCE-use has been experiencing a consistent decline in usage  and the exposure appears to be declining in the general population. Consumers should research the consumer confidence report for their specific water agency to obtain accurate information on their water quality and not rely solely on the information provided on the analysis provided by the EWC.

What is Trichloroethylene?

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Trichloroethylene is a colorless volatile liquid that is produced in large volumes for commercial use. It is used to make other chemicals and as a solvent that is found in processes from dry cleaning, auto maintenance, aerosol cleaning products, and a  variety of other commercial industries. The Institute goes on to explain that TCE can be released into the water, air, and soil in the area where it is handled and stored.  TCE can become problematic if people experience chronic exposure or consumption since it has been recently categorized as a carcinogenic. According to the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for determining what level of contaminants, such as Trichloroethylene, in drinking water is safe for human consumption based on extensive testing, monitoring and research. The EPA creates enforceable drinking water standards for maximum contaminant levels (MCL). The MCL is the maximum allowable contaminant concentration, which a public water system can deliver to a customer. The current maximum contaminant level (MCL) for Trichloroethylene is 5µg/L (5 ppb).

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What are public health goals?

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, sets public health goals. These goals are based on concentrations that pose no significant health risks if consumed for an entire lifetime. These public health goals are utilized by public water agencies to provide customers with information about drinking water contaminants in their annual consumer confidence report. Public health goals are not regulatory standards, nor are they intended to be. They are a guideline for the State Water Resources Control Board when determining the appropriate MCL for a contaminant. To find out more information from your specific water agency on levels of TCE, visit their website and evaluate the consumer confidence report, also known as water quality report.

Where to find additional information on Trichloroethylene:

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate the water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the U.S. EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or visit the EPA’s web site at www.epa.gov. Trace chemicals are measured in parts per million (ppm), which is the same as milligrams per liter (mg/L). Some constituents are measured in parts per billion (ppb). Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Those who may be particularly at risk include cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, people with HIV-AIDS or other immune system disorders, as well as some elderly individuals and infants. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

Innovative technology has helped improve many aspects in our quality of life and medical advancements are no exception. Medicine plays an integral role in people’s daily life; whether taken for a one-time ailment or as a daily medication, it has truly evolved and can help maintain healthy communities. But what happens when medications need to be disposed of?

It is important that we safeguard our natural resources from unwanted materials and this includes medicine. The Federal Drug Administration advises, “When your medicines are no longer needed, they should be disposed of promptly. Consumers and caregivers should remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from their home as quickly as possible to help reduce the chance that others accidentally take or intentionally misuse the unneeded medicine, and to help reduce drugs from entering the environment.” Essentially, proper disposal of medication has various benefits, including keeping potentially strong medicine out of the hands of children and those who may abuse it, and to minimize any environmental impacts, including impacts on our watersheds.

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Local organizations, such as Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD), are helping customers and Riverside County residents properly dispose of unwanted medicines. “EMWD’s SewerSmart Healthy Sewers campaign educates on proper medication disposal in order to reduce the impacts of unwanted medications in local wastewater. Toilets are not trashcans,” shares Roxanne Rountree, Senior Public Affairs Officer at EMWD. “We provide free medication disposal bags. Simply place the medications in the bags, add water and throw away in a trashcan. Historically, the District has promoted disposing medications by mixing it with undesirable substances, such as kitty litter or coffee grounds, and discarding it in the household trash. This option provides convenient onsite disposal that ultimately ends up in a lined landfill. However, some consumers prefer off-site disposal, citing environmental concerns and the possibility of disposed medications ending up in the wrong hands,”

EMWD, like many of SAWPA’s partners regard what they call highly reliable water, recycled water and wastewater service as their top priority and do so by protecting the health and safety of the community and the environment, as well as meet all regulatory requirements.

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How much of a concern is it when medicine enters the environment and what kind of impact does it have on our watershed?
This is a multifaceted answer that has been the central topic in many discussions and studies throughout the years. The World Health Organization released a technical report that states, “Pharmaceuticals are normally governed by stringent regulatory processes and require rigorous preclinical and clinical studies to assess their efficacy and safety before commercialization. Therefore, pharmaceuticals are generally better characterized than other environmental contaminants.” However, the Santa Ana River Watershed still relies heavily on its local communities and partners to engage in safe disposal of unwanted medications, trash, and other forms of debris to maintain the vitality of the habitat and the integrity of the resource.

Some of the pharmaceutical contaminants in our environment do not come directly from the actual medication being disposed of in our waterways or down our toilets and sinks. In fact, the World Health Organization established “that raw sewage and wastewater effluents are a…source of pharmaceuticals found in surface waters,” and, the Federal Drug Administration reinforces the notion that the “majority of medicines found in water are a result of the body’s natural routes of drug elimination (in urine or feces).” The pharmaceutical contaminants make their way into our water supply via our natural sewer and water cycle. Nevertheless, almost every individual person can have a direct and positive impact on the watershed by following proper pharmaceutical disposal of medication they no longer need. The individual and community level preventative actions that people take help sustain a healthy and reliable source of water. They also support the habitation and give people ease of mind when participating in recreational activities along watershed.

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How do we know that our tap water quality still maintains its integrity? The World Health Organization goes on to explain, “Even though wastewater and drinking-water treatment processes are not designed specifically to remove pharmaceuticals, they may do so to varying degrees. Pharmaceuticals are not “unusual” chemicals; their removal efficiencies during wastewater and drinking-water treatment are dependent on their physical and chemical properties. In cases where regulations require controls to mitigate risks from exposure to pesticides, treatment barriers may already be optimized to remove pharmaceuticals. Conventional wastewater treatment facilities generally have activated sludge processes or other forms of biological treatment such as biofiltration. These processes have demonstrated varying removal rates for pharmaceuticals, ranging from less than 20% to greater than 90%.”

The FDA released a statement saying that “To date, scientists have found no evidence of harmful effects to human health from medicines in the environment. In addition, to better understand the human health and ecological risks from medicines in our water, the FDA works with other agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” Governing agencies are constantly searching for improvements in treatment processes to uphold water quality standards and protect our watersheds. To reduce overall medicine levels in our waters, FDA recommends that if readily available, consumers first consider disposing of these drugs as quickly as possible through programs. Available options include:

  • Using disposal events at your local pharmacy to return unused medication
  • Disposing of medicines in household trash in the following steps
    • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;
    • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
    • Throw the container in your household trash; and
  • By being cognizant of what we are disposing of in our waterways

EMWD has partnered with other public agencies to provide a myriad of options, including local events, to dispose of pharmaceutical medication including:

We shouldn’t contaminate our waters by pouring fat, grease, or oil down our pipes. Adopting the same mentality when it comes to pharmaceuticals can only help maintain the liveliness of our water supply and watershed, and promote overall public health.

 

Have you ever wondered what that giant tank on the hill was? You are looking at a water tank reservoir storing water for your community. Water reservoirs are a means to store both drinking (potable) and non-drinking water (non-potable). Reservoirs can be in the form of a lake or tank. Beneath the ground you can also find natural underground reservoirs where water is stored until it can be pumped, treated (cleaned) and delivered to homes.

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Eastern Municipal Water District’s Paradise Meadows Reservoir sits high above the hills of the Audie Murphy Ranch development.

Potable water tank reservoirs  store water that has already been treated and is waiting to be delivered to homes and businesses. In California, due to the mountainous terrain, reservoirs are usually placed in higher elevations. The reason for placing the tanks higher than the homes and businesses is because pressure is needed to push water through the pipes. The water that leaves the tanks travels by gravity flow. The water pushes through the distribution system (pipes) and the pressure depends on the elevation and distance of the reservoir that provides water to a home. A water pressure regulator is a device that can be installed to regulate pressure to ensure the correct amount of pressure is present.

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The water inside the Orangecrest Reservoir, in Riverside, is managed by Western Municipal Water District.

Reservoir tanks ensure that the correct amount of water is treated and ready to be distributed to the areas they provide water to. When people turn on the tap to take a drink of water, enjoy a shower or wash their hands, water travels directly from a nearby reservoir,  through pipes and into homes. The process happens so efficiently that most people never think twice about where their water comes from or how it gets to them. Besides residential, commercial and industrial water demands, reservoirs also store surplus water held in reserve in case of high fire flow water demand.  This ensures adequate water is supplied to fire hydrants when firefighting is needed.

“There are several benefits of a tank reservoir versus an open reservoir,” shares Liza Muñoz, Inland Empire Utilities Agency Senior Engineer.  “Tanks allow you to store a large amount of water in a smaller footprint than in an open reservoir. They also avoid water evaporation, which can reduce supply. Tanks are designed to supply water at the appropriate system pressures needed to deliver the water.”

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930 West Reservoir in Chino Hills stores recycled water for agriculture, irrigation, industrial cooling processes, and groundwater replenishment.

Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) has five above ground tank reservoirs to store treated recycled water for non-potable (not for drinking) water. The recycled water is stored in the reservoirs and then distributed to IEUA’s member agencies for non-potable use in agriculture, irrigation, industrial cooling processes, and groundwater replenishment. The water stored in these tanks comes from IEUA’s regional water recycling plants and are governed by California Title 22. Stringent water quality testing is conducted so that recycled water quality meets/exceeds regulatory standards in order to be reused for non-drinking water purposes.

Both drinking water and treated recycled water can benefit from being stored in tank reservoirs. Next time to you look up at a hill and see a tank reservoir, be sure to remember that inside that large tank there are possibly millions of gallons of water inside waiting to travel through your city.

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An inside view of the San Bernardino Perris Hill Reservoir after being drained.

 

Water is a finite resource. We cannot make more of it. The same water on earth today is the same water that was here during the times that dinosaurs roamed.

Southern California’s dry climate with little rainfall requires the need for a sustainable and secure supply for water. With record breaking dry periods, such as the most-recent drought that took place over the course of five years from 2012 to 2017, water agencies throughout California are looking for solutions for maintaining a sustainable drinking water supply. It is more important than ever to become less dependent on  imported water and reduce costly sources of water to support the region’s demand. Dry years forced water agencies to look for innovative and progressive avenues that create local viable supplies of water.

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Advancements in technology, water treatment facilities and innovative thinking have created wastewater recycling and groundwater recharge. This approach to water supply management gives Southern California agencies a feasible option to meet the needs of its commercial and residential customers while preserving groundwater basin levels.

What exactly does wastewater recycling mean? It is a highly sophisticated process that the Environmental Protection Agency describes as “reusing treated (cleaned) wastewater for beneficial purposes such, as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a groundwater basin (referred to as groundwater recharge).” California’s Department of Water Resources describes groundwater recharge as “the augmentation of groundwater, by natural or artificial means, with surface water or recycled water.”

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This wastewater treatment and reuse process is currently being used for both non-potable (not consumable) and potable (consumable) via recharge across the region. Orange County Water District (OCWD) has led the way in developing and implementing a water purification system for indirect potable reuse. Its Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) is considered the world’s largest of its kind and serves as a global model for water reuse.

“Wastewater is a resource. That is why OCWD has made a significant investment in implementing and expanding the Groundwater Replenishment System . In fact, by 2023 the GWRS will produce 130 million gallons of water a day. The GWRS creates local water reliability and helps OCWD diversify its water portfolio. These types of projects have tremendous potential throughout California, and beyond. As water managers, we must look at all available options in our region to create long-term water reliability and water reuse should be considered,” shared OCWD General Manager Mike Markus.

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The GWRS takes highly treated wastewater that would have previously been discharged into the Pacific Ocean and purifies it using a three-step advanced treatment process consisting of micro-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide.  In order to simultaneously maintain the groundwater basins integrity that was no longer being sustained by natural recharge, and to satisfy the demands of their ever-growing population, Orange County Water District will  replenish the supply with purchased imported sources as needed. Although the GWRS creates more local water reliability, Orange County Water District is still reliant on other water sources. The GWRS does reduce dependence on other water sources by 30 percent.

GWRS enabled the water district to reduce the need to purchase imported supplies and instead allowed them to recharge their basin with their wastewater that had been extensively treated. Their process is often described as a state-of-the-art production that creates a high quality, local indirect potable supply which is beneficial to all its consumers. Different types of this supply model, albeit smaller in production, are imitated throughout the region.

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Although treatment plants and techniques have become increasingly modified, using recycled wastewater to meet demands is not entirely new. In fact,  according to the Department of Water Resources, it is a technique that has been used for over a century.  During the late 1800s farmers began using wastewater to grow crops and others started using it for landscape irrigation. Investing in infrastructure for these operating systems usually requires a larger upfront cost but provides multifaceted benefits that often offset and surpass the cost. The Department of Water Resources list the following benefits for recycled water:Restores wetlands and marshes;

• Forestalls a water shortage by conserving fresh water;

• Provides additional reliable local sources of water, nutrients and organic matter for soil conditioning;

• Provides drought protection;

• Improves the economic efficiency of investments in pollution control and irrigation projects, particularly near urban areas;

• Improves social benefits by creating more jobs and improving human and environmental health protection.

Water districts understand the public health concerns regarding the use of recycled water, which is recharged in the groundwater basin and later used for potable water. They battle the misperceptions by ensuring quality tests meet and exceed mandatory state and federal regulations for drinking water. With increasing demands and an unpredictable future in California’s climate, building infrastructure for recycling wastewater for groundwater recharge is an option that is becoming increasingly popular to increase local control of water of resources.

BPA has made headlines repeatedly over the years and prompted a public outcry for more information over the topic. Many people have called for its ban and expressed concerns over the presence of BPA in everyday household items. The overwhelming presence of BPA in food and drink containers may be negatively impacting a wide range of bodily functions independent of age, race, or gender. The long term consequences of involuntary and long-term ingestion of the chemical raises the question of how to avoid it.

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What is exactly is BPA? The Mayo Clinic defines BPA, short for bisphenol A., as an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960’s. The Clinic further explains that “BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles.” Essentially, BPA is a chemical that has been used in plastic productions for nearly 70 years and is universal among plastic-based container goods. BPA becomes problematic when used in everyday items such as water bottles and Tupperware due to the susceptibility of the chemical leaching into the contained product, i.e. food or beverages. This in turn leads to the chemical unknowingly being ingested and causing short and long term ailments. The Mayo Clinic reinforces that notion and states, “Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.”

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Your So Cal Tap Water previously had the opportunity to interview Brenda Meyer, an engineer and water scientist from Western Municipal Water District, about the regulations that tap water is mandated to follow. We learned that besides BPA contamination concerns, bottled water also faces looser regulations in the filtering process compared to tap water. This is not to say that bottled water is unsafe to consume, but does reinforce the notion that tap water faces strict regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is monitored to maintain its quality. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is subject to weekly test for bacteriological contamination in California; while regular bottled water testing is suggested, it is not always enforced and often goes loosely regulated. Municipal water districts are subject to more rigorous quality tests on a frequent basis and take pride upholding the integrity of the resource.

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Time Magazine online shares a recent study, conducted by Orb Media, on the contamination of 9 of the 11 bottled water tested for Microplastic contamination testing positive. The findings were nearly universal discovering Microplastics in 90% of the samples tested. Compared to bottled water from around the globe, those tested from U.S. sources ranked higher for contamination. Furthermore, the environmental impacts of the bottled water are also a concern if not addressed.

We know that tap water is BPA free, regulated, and wallet-friendly to consume, but still the United States is experiencing an increase in sales of bottled water. According to data released by Beverage Marketing Inc., “Theamount of bottled water sold rose 7.9 percent in 2015. That’s on top of a 7 percent increase in 2014. Looking over a long term time span, from 2000 to 2015, bottled water consumption more than doubled, from 16.7 gallons a person to 36.4 gallons.”

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Americans are consistently purchasing and consuming more bottled water than ever before and potentially exposing themselves to hazardous chemicals in the process. Besides the convenience of purchasing bottled water, packaging is valued for its aesthetic components and media ‘worthiness.’ National Geographic speaks to the anti-bottled-water campaigns “which have been concentrated on the nation’s college campuses and focus on the environmentalimpact of bottled water as a packaged product, compared to simply refilling a reusable water bottle,” but concludes that the movement needs more engagement from the public.

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Staying BPA free is possible and there are many simple steps you can take to avoid it. Using a reusable bottle and filling it with tap water helps avoid environmental and health consequences that plastics containing BPA can produce. Choosing the right refillable bottle identified with ‘BPA free’ stickers or signage are also instrumental to avoiding the chemical in your household items. Whatever the case, be reassured that filling it with tap water is safe and monitored as well as economically friendly for any home!

To read our  interview with Brenda click here.

There is no question about it, according to the CDC, this year has been one of the worst recent years for the flu on record. If you have ever had the flu, you know that it can affect your entire system and halt your plans for several days, if not longer. One moment you are feeling well and the next the flu symptoms wreak havoc on your health. Fevers, aches and body chills, among many other unpleasant symptoms, stop your ability to function in your day-to-day routine. The symptoms of the flu hit children and elderly people the hardest. There are many precautions you can take to deter the flu, such as getting a flu shot at your local pharmacy, staying away from people who have the flu and washing your hands often. There are also holistic home remedies that claim to help avoid the illness as well. However, there is no way to guarantee that you won’t contract the flu. Germs spread quickly and varying strains of the flu can be stronger than others.

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In addition to taking necessary precautions, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a key part of preventing the flu. A large part of healthy living is nourishing your body and drinking adequate amounts of water to enhance your immune system. Since more than half our bodies are composed of water, drinking the recommended amount may help you, and loved ones, end the flu season unscathed.

Most people know you are supposed to drink plenty of fluids when they are sick with the flu, but did you know that drinking water, including tap water, and staying hydrated year-long can actually help prevent it altogether? Water is essential for our bodies to operate and giving it the right amount strengthens its functions. Dr. David Lewis explains that “the first line of defense is the mucous membrane in the nose,” and, “[it] acts like a sticky flypaper to trap things like dust, dirt and bacteria and prevent them getting to the lungs. If you are dehydrated, the mucous membrane will dry out. When this happens, it is half as effective.” To keep your first line of defense in optimal, flu-fighting shape, it is imperative to drink enough water to fuel it so that it can block undesirable bacteria and viruses through this canal.

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Everyday Health affirms that drinking the recommended amount of water is beneficial to your health and one recent study “found staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight the viruses.” This allows your body to avoid contracting the flu and fight off any unwanted symptoms but needs to be fortified with proper hydration and health. Boosting your immune system allows your body to ward off the flu before it becomes potentially  problematic, as it often does with people that have weak immune systems.

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Because water is made of oxygen, drinking more water increases the oxygen in our bodies. Drinking more water improves our body’s cellular respiration and the removal of toxins in our bodies. Essentially, water helps humans stay healthy, which can boost immunity and help avoid the flu. If you do happen to contract the flu, drinking plenty of water can help fight it and rid your body of the virus. Water is truly an amazing resource and does much more besides boosting our immune systems and helping prevent the flu. Whether it’s  flu season or not, drink plenty  of readily available tap water from your home faucet and keep hydrated. To learn about more benefits and tips to stay hydrated, read our post ‘New Year, New You: Benefits of Drinking Water

First built in 1949 to provide water to St. Bernadine Medical Center, the Perris Hill Reservoir serves as drinking water storage for the people in the City of San Bernardino. This hidden reservoir is not visible to the naked eye; it was intentionally constructed inside an existing hill, east of Perris Hill Park. A popular hiking spot for locals, the Perris Hill Reservoir is hidden deep in the earth. From the top of the hill, only the beautiful surrounding mountains of San Bernardino are seen. It is beneath this hilltop location where 10 million gallons of water are stored every day to provide a resource essential to all life; water. In 1962, the Perris Hill Reservoir was reconstructed to expand the capacity in order to meet the demands of the growing region.

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Perris Hill Reservoir is hidden beneath the soil at Perris Hill.

“In the 1940’s the need for additional water storage was identified. There wasn’t enough water for the hospital and the surrounding area,” stated Michael Garland, Water Utility Operations Superintendent at San Bernardino Municipal Water Department. “Because of its depth, Perris Hill Reservoir is technically classified as a dam by the State of California. There are many benefits to building a dam in a hill. Not only does it provide needed pressure to deliver water, but it also keeps the temperature cooler, versus an outdoor tank.”

The Perris Hill Reservoir, owned and operated by San Bernardino Municipal Water Department (SBMWD), is just one of 38 reservoirs operated by the Department. In 2016, SBMWD served 202,000 people, equating to 10.5 billion gallons of water.  The Perris Hill Reservoir provides water to 3,284 households.

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Rarely seen view of the interior of Perris Hill Reservoir after being drained.

Every eight years, the reservoir is drained for routine maintenance. The structure is disinfected, inspected and repairs are made. In January 2018, the Perris Hill Reservoir was drained and inspected. When the tank is empty, a large 20-inch pipe is visible on the floor of this damp, cool compound. This pipe is used to keep water moving inside the reservoir in order to minimize stagnation. Water enters the reservoir through the pipe; this is called the influent line. It leaves the pipe via another pipe called the effluent line. The constant movement helps ensure safe clean reliable water delivery to the consumers’ homes.

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When the Perris Hill Reservoir is filled to capacity, water covers the entire staircase.

“Crews prepared for the draining of Perris Hill Reservoir by first determining the water demand of the reservoir. The water is not wasted, we simply shut off production from the well, so that no new water is entering the tank,” explained Garland. “We deplete the water from reservoir by the usage from our customers. Once the water is drained (used) we switch service so that the customers who would normally receive water from Perris Hill Reservoir receive water from another location. The entire process of draining takes approximately 10 days to complete.”

Perris Hill Reservoir does not have any on-site staff members who work at the location, however the monitoring of water levels and quality is logged multiple times a day. Daily water quality samples are collected and analyses are performed to ensure the safety of the drinking water.

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Sensors help detect water levels inside the Reservoir.

“Our staff comes out to the site multiple times a day to report water levels and quality. Water levels can also be tracked remotely using a transducer, which uses sonar technology to report water levels,” shared Garland. “All of our facilities, including the Perris Hill Reservoir, record data relating to water supply using a computerized system for tracking real time data called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).”

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View from the top of Perris Hill. The Perris Hill Reservoir sits just below this hilltop.

Water stored in the Perris Hill Reservoir comes from local water supplies, including groundwater basins and snowmelt from the San Bernardino Mountains. The San Bernardino area is a part of the Santa Ana River Watershed, an intricate system of natural water sources starting as snowmelt in the San Bernardino Mountains, traveling down through Riverside, then after multiple uses to Orange County for recharge into the groundwater via the Santa Ana River.

 

Make a New Year’s resolution to drink more water. We are quickly approaching the time of year where we look for a fresh start and make changes to improve our lifestyles. We create new resolutions and aspirations for the upcoming year. The thought of ringing in 2018 with a healthy start is one that excites many people and as the saying goes, “A new year, a new YOU!” Did you know that drinking sufficient amount of water and staying hydrated can bring positive impacts to your body? Entering the year with the resolution to drink more water is a great step towards a better well-being of the mind and body. Not only is water a vital resource for our daily routines and lifestyles, it is also an irreplaceable nutrient for the body that allows for proper health. According to The USGS Water Science School, as much as 70% of our bodies are composed of water that “serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going.” Over half of our bodies are made up of water, which can be an indicator of why being dehydrated has such detrimental impacts in a person’s mind and bodily health.

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Healthline, an online site health information site, explains that “even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can impair many of the brain aspects,” and provides evidence-based reasons that water is beneficial to our overall well-being. Water is an amazing resource and some key benefits from drinking more include:

  1. ‘Water helps maximize physical performance.’ Physical activity is one of the major key players in leading a healthy lifestyle. Thus, staying hydrated is an important component for those who are committing themselves to a more active lifestyle in 2018 or who are already meeting higher levels of physical activity. The mental and physical energy needed to complete a full workout derives from both a balanced nutrition and adequate hydration. Additionally, replenishing lost water from physical activity is important to keep your body going.
  2. ‘Hydration has major effects on energy levels and brain function.’ This essentially means that your state of hydration can impact your feelings of anxiety, fatigue, and mood. Nourishing your body with this resource can help boost energy in a positive direction while discouraging unpleasant feelings.
  3. ‘Drinking water may help treat and prevent headaches.’ Of course this is dependent on the type of headache and other environmental factors but hydration still plays a key role. Since our brains are composed mostly of water, it makes sense that dehydration could have a negative impact on this aspect. Drinking water can deter this ailment and help you continue your day without the uneasiness of a headache!
  4. ‘Drinking more water can aid in weight loss.’ This means that those who are drinking more water may see a drop in the scale as well! Weight loss is a common resolution for many people entering the New Year and drinking more water is a simple step they can take in order to help achieve that goal. If this is your resolution, you can lose weight and feel other positive impacts from staying hydrated!tape-403592_1920.jpg

As you can see, staying hydrated has multifaceted benefits that can aid in various parts of life. However, with busy schedules remembering to drink water frequently can be a challenge. Help stick to your resolution by setting ‘drink water reminders on either your phone or computer to prompt you to hydrate regularly. Have another family member, friend, or coworker join in the resolution for motivation and accountability. If you would like to take a more hands-on approach you could meet your goals by pre-filling up water bottles from home with tap water. Determine how much water you must drink by a certain hour of the day. Drinking the recommended ounces for your body type may seem less overwhelming and more achievable when compartmentalized. These are just a couple methods to help you meet your goals but whatever works best for you and your lifestyle is the best option. Happy New Year and have a healthy and prosperous 2018 from YourSoCalTapWater.org.

Public Health Goals (PHG) are often mistaken as law, however they are goals set by the state as to what level a contaminant no longer poses a significant health risk. They are not regulated, but are established as a recommendation by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). Conversely, Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) are standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep public water systems safe. The MCL is the legal limit on how much of a constituent/ contaminant can be found in drinking water.  MCLs are enforceable and regulated.

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The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) reviews public health goals, however the determination of safe contaminant levels is dependent on the available technology  and the feasibility of removing a contaminant  before determining drinking water standards. Public Health Goals are established based on extensive testing, even by studying the impacts on the people who have been exposed to certain contaminants. Scientific evidence of all health hazards relating to constituents / contaminants in water is collected and studied to create recommended Public Health Goals that will not harm humans.

According to the OEHHA, “Professional staff includes toxicologists, epidemiologists, physicians, biostatisticians, and research scientists who are responsible for assessing health risks posed to the public by hazardous chemicals. The Office provides its scientific expertise in this area to other state regulatory agencies. Through its risk assessments and its development of PHG, OEHHA assists SWRCB in developing regulatory standards for chemicals in the state’s drinking water.”

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Contaminants, also called constituents, are often naturally occurring. While optimally, the absence of contaminants would be preferred, the economics and available technology can limit the ability to achieve such goals. Health officials from the EPA, SWRCB and OEHHA evaluate lab results and current law to establish public health goals. It is the responsibility of public water systems in the state to monitor and report water quality to meet both federal and state regulations.

Public Health Goals are instrumental in guiding drinking water law and protecting human health, but it is important to note that they are not legal limits. Some MCLs are higher than PHGs, but this does not pose a health risk. The PHGs are established as a goal whenever feasible, however the MCLs are considered safe levels of contaminants. Public water agencies are required to inform their customers of contaminants levels each year. All public information on water quality is contained in an annual water quality report, also known as a consumer confidence report. These reports contain legal MCLs and the results of testing.

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If a constituent is detected that exceeds the MCL, the public water agency must notify the customer of the detection and possible health risks. All notices sent to customers must be approved by the SWRCB. Public water agencies continue to play an integral part in the monitoring and protection of our drinking water supply. For questions about your specific water quality report, contact your local water agency or visit their website to download a copy.

Have you wondered what the hype about alkaline drinking water is all about? Bottled water beverage companies market their products with the promises of added health benefits from alkaline. Remember, these companies are beverage providers, they are not in the business of protecting water quality. Claims that alkaline may have medical benefits to improve everything from acid reflux to diabetes and even high cholesterol can be found posted throughout the internet. Walking through the grocery store you will find shelves stacked with competing products of bottled water, but which is the most healthy? If claims regarding alkaline water are true, did you know that the tap water that comes from your faucet at home may in fact be alkaline? Due to standards regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most tap water is alkaline.

The pH levels in water measure hydrogen ions, which determine the acidity or alkalinity of water. The scale ranges from 0-14, seven is neutral with anything less than seven being acidic. If the pH is greater than seven the water is quantified as being alkaline. The EPA requires that tap water have a minimum pH level of 6.5, slightly below neutral. Many water agencies are above neutral making tap water a natural source of alkaline drinking water.Alkaline Tap Water pH ScaleWater that is alkaline contains minerals that some believe to be beneficial to your health due to the potential to neutralize acid in the bloodstream. However, according to the Mayo Clinic validity of these claims is still uncertain. Water in its most purest form is alkaline. If water is acidic then there is the potential for the body to absorb toxins. Home filters and water ionizers can be purchased to increase alkaline levels. It is recommended to first check your Consumer Confidence Report to check the pH levels at your home; you may be surprised by what you will read.

External factors in our diet and environment can be considered causes for a condition know as acidosis, which is an overproduction of acid in the bloodstream. Consuming fruits and vegetables can balance pH levels by making the body more alkaline. Some doctors and nutritionists believe that similarly, alkaline water may produce similar health results by neutralizing acid in the blood stream. Many medical studies can be found online on the effects of drinking alkaline water. It is important to note that many of these have been conducted with small sample sizes or only for short periods of time making results challenging to determine overall health benefits.

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While representative studies may be inconclusive on the health benefits of higher pH levels in drinking water, check with your doctor and seek medical advice as you whether a high pH level will improve your overall health.

Bottled water is not as regulated as tap and in many circumstances beverage companies are bottling tap water; the same water you receive at your home, yet less monitored during the bottling process.

In California, bottled water is required to be tested and meet the same limits as tap water, however testing is much less frequent and is performed only on samples at the bottling plant. This would not detect any leaching of plastic components from bottles or bacteria that might grow during storage. Bottle water is required to report test results only if requested, while public water systems must provide water quality results each year to their customers. Next time to reach for the plastic bottle water, think twice, you may want to reach for a glass of tap water instead.

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For information on pH levels of your tap water, visit the website of your water agency and check for pH levels. Each year, the EPA requires that all public water agencies provide customers with a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as a water quality report. Understanding how to decode your water quality report can be found on the SoCalTapWater blog.