Water Quality Report

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2017 Water Quality ReportLaguna Beach County Water District staff performs continuous water quality testing to ensure its customers safe drinking water. Water supplies are carefully monitored and meet all state and federal standards for health and safety. Each year, the results of these tests are compiled in a water quality report and distributed to all District customers.

Since 1990, California water utilities have been providing an annual Water Quality Report to their customers. This year's report has been prepared in compliance with regulations called for in 1996 reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The reauthorization charged the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) with updating the tap water regulatory program and changed the report's due date to July 1.

USEPA and the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) are the agencies responsible for establishing drinking water quality standards. To ensure that your tap water is safe to drink, USEPA and CDHS prescribe regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. CDHS regulations also establish limits for contaminants in bottled water that must provide the same protection for public health. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also sets regulations for bottled water.

The District vigilantly safeguards its water supply and, as in years past, the water delivered to your home meets the standards required by the state and federal regulatory agencies. In some cases, your local utility goes beyond what is required to monitor for additional contaminants that have known health risks. For information about your water quality in general, please contact our water quality specialist at (949) 464-3117.

View the 2017 Water Quality Report or the 2016 Water Quality Report.

Additional Information About Your Drinking Water

Flouride in Drinking Water

Fluoride has been added to U.S. drinking water supplies since 1945. Of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., 43 fluoridate their drinking water. In December 2007, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California joined a majority of the nation's public water supplies in adding fluoride to drinking water in order to prevent tooth decay. Metropolitan is the primary supplier of imported water to Laguna Beach and many Southland residents. 

In line with recommendations from the CDPH, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Metropolitan adjusted the natural fluoride level in imported treated water from the Colorado River and State Water Project water to the optimal range for dental health of 0.6 to 1.2 parts per million. Fluoride levels in drinking water are limited under California state regulations at a maximum dosage of 2 parts per million.

Is it harmful to my health?
Hundreds of studies have looked at whether there is a link between fluoride and cancer, as well as adverse effects on the immune system, kidneys, digestive, and reproductive system. In reviewing the body of evi­dence, the American Dental Association concluded that “the overwhelming...evidence indicates that fluoridation of community water supplies is both safe and effective.”

What if I do not want to drink fluoridated water?
Reverse osmosis or distillation home devices remove significant amounts of both naturally occurring fluoride and fluoride added through fluoridation. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certifies certain reverse osmosis home treatment devices and distil­lation units for the reduction of fluoride. For a list of NSF certified devices, visit info.nsf.org/certified/DWTU. It is important to regularly maintain these devices for optimum effectiveness.

For more information about fluoride in drinking water visit:

Lead in Drinking Water

Out of concern for the public health issue regarding lead in drinking water, here is some valuable information.

Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. Every three years, the District tests for lead at-the-tap of 30 residences in our service area. The 30 homes we sample throughout the District are a representative sample of the homes that might have lead plumbing components. We do this according to the EPA's Lead and Copper Rule. The testing results are used to ensure corrosion control treatment techniques are working. If the water is soft or corrosive, it can accelerate the leaching of lead and other metals from household plumbing and water fixtures.

Our 2014 tests did not detect any lead in any of the homes sampled. Tests for lead are done at the home because lead piping and solder was often used in older homes. Homes built prior to the 1930's had pipes primarily made of lead. After the 1930's and through the 1980's, copper pipes were often used however the solder to connect the pipes contained lead. Lead was a common component of solders used in plumbing until it was banned in 1991.

Corrosive water, as it passed through the Flint water system, appears to have leached lead in service pipes as it reached the homes of some residents. Switching from one water source to another without implementing necessary treatment adjustments appears to be at the root of that community's challenge. The District has never used lead pipes to deliver water to our residents and our system is operated under optimized corrosion control to minimize lead leaching from plumbing materials in older homes.

The District receives a portion of its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Metropolitan has long imported two supplies, one from the Colorado River and the other from Northern California. Both are naturally low in corrosive qualities. But to ensure that the water that is delivered by the district is consistently so, measurements to monitor corrosion are among the 350-some constituents that are tested by Metropolitan more than 350,000 times a year at their five treatment plants. This means Southern California's drinking water receives almost 1,000 tests every single day.

The District is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. If you are concerned about the possibility of lead leaching from your household pipes, you may wish to have it tested by a certified laboratory. The District can provide the contact information for the lab we use or residents can call the County Health Department for a list. Residents can also get information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps to take to minimize exposure by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or by visiting the EPA website. All water agencies are required to produce a Water Quality Report that is mailed to customers in June. You can also access the District's latest Water Quality Report online. The report covers everything the District has tested for the previous year and the results.

Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water

Americans ingest millions of prescription drugs annually, and up until now flushing unused or expired medications down the toilet was a common and accepted practice. Initially, this practice served as a poison prevention measure, but research now indicates that pharmaceuticals flushed into the water system may not necessarily be removed by sewage treatment facilities. These treatment facilities were simply not designed to eliminate pharmaceuticals in the water, which in turn may have negative affects on drinking water quality and the environment. 

Medications make their way into the environment from sources such as animal feedlots, land application of organic materials and wastewater treatment plants that treat residential, commercial, and/or industrial wastewater. Medications can enter the sewer system in various ways, but one major route is through the disposal of unused or expired medications down the toilet or drain. Once the pharmaceuticals reach the treatment plants, it is assumed that all traces of pharmaceuticals will be removed. However, these treatment plants may not necessarily be equipped to remove medications from the water. They are instead responsible for removing conventional pollutants such as solids and biodegradable materials.

Major Concerns Regarding Medications in Surface Water Bodies  
This is a complex issue and the level of risk to humans and the environment is still yet to be determined. However, the presence of increased bacterial resistance to antibiotics and interference with growth and reproduction in aquatic organisms such as fish and frogs are major concerns. It is impossible to know what combinations of medications in the water system will produce long-term risks, but in the meantime, it is important to minimize the disposal of medications into the sewage system in order to decrease the possible negative and irreversible effects pharmaceuticals may have on the environment. 

Facts about Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water

  • Many water sources—rivers, streams and groundwater—are susceptible to PPCPs and EDCs through wastewater input and/or agricultural practices.  Some of these compounds can persist through the water treatment process.
  • The presence of PPCPs and EDCs in source waters is not a new phenomenon.  These chemicals have been present since their initial use by consumers and industry.
  • The development of more sensitive analytical techniques has only recently allowed the detection of these compounds at such low environmental levels.
  • Wastewater discharge and runoff from agricultural areas are considered significant factors associated with the presence of PPCPs in surface waters.
  • A survey of Colorado River Water conducted in 2002 by the U.S. Geological Survey detected eight pharmaceutical compounds and three PPCPs; all detections were in low parts-per-billion to parts-per-trillion ranges.
  • In general, most PPCPs cannot be removed by conventional treatment.  Ozone, however, is considered one of the most cost-effective treatment technologies capable of removing a wide range of PPCPs and EDCs.  Advanced treatment processes such as membrane technology can remove most PPCPs.
  • The human health effects, if any, of drinking water with extremely low trace levels of PPCPs and EDCs are not known at this time.  This is being studied but considerably more work is required to determine whether there are any impacts.

Safe Disposal Options
The disposal options of waste medications differ from state to state, but in regions of California, there are a various options available.

  1. Submit unused or unwanted medications to local hazardous waste collection centers. It is illegal for collection centers to accept controlled substances. These are drugs that have a potential for addiction and/or abuse such as narcotics and tranquilizers. If you are unsure whether your prescription is a controlled substance, check with your doctor or pharmacist. If your medication is a controlled substance, proceed to option 2, described below.
  2. Securely seal medications and dispose out of the reach of children and pets 

Treat all medications prior to disposal 

  1. Treat all Medications: Add water and then salt, ashes from the fireplace or barbeque pit, or dirt from the yard to pills or capsules in a bottle. Add salt, ashes or dirt to liquid medications. Wrap several layers of masking tape or duct tape to cover. It is also wise to place the medications in the trash as close to the pick-up time as possible so that the medication will have a lesser chance of being ingested by someone other than the intended patient.
  2. Use original container: Tape the lid to the container with duct tape. Avoid breaks by using a plastic container versus a glass bottle. Hide medications in an outer container such as a paper bag, box or plastic tub and wrap in several layers of newspaper to prevent discovery or removal from the trash.
  3. Remove personal information: Remove the patients name, drug name, prescription number, and other sensitive information before disposal.
For More Information
Visit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) web site for Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products Frequently Asked Questions.

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