Posted on: February 25, 2016

Coachella Valley Water District addresses questions about lead in drinking water

Water Quality Lab

The news out of Flint, Michigan, about extremely high levels of lead in the drinking water may raise concerns about whether a similar problem could occur here. Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) customers can be confident that such a scenario is unlikely.

"CVWD tests drinking water for lead in accordance with all state and federal drinking water requirements, including US EPA's Lead and Copper Rule," said Steve Bigley, director of Environmental Services for CVWD. "Delivering high quality water is our highest priority and CVWD customers can be assured that these tests show there is no lead problem in their drinking water."

There are two key factors contributing to the Flint situation. First, the city's new water source has a different water quality that was not adjusted to protect the coating that forms inside the pipes that deliver tap water. Secondly, water systems like those in Flint were built long ago when lead pipes were still used and as the coating inside the pipes is dissolved by the new water supply some of the lead is being leeched into the tap water.

CVWD uses groundwater for all of its drinking water. The water CVWD delivers to homes and businesses provides the right amount of coating inside water pipes due in part to minerals containing calcium that occur naturally in local groundwater. This helps prevent a similar situation from occurring here.

In addition, CVWD has no lead service lines or pipes in its system. The only presence of lead in the service area is in the plumbing of homes and businesses. Solder used on copper plumbing installed before 1986 (the year lead solder was banned) and a variety of older faucets and brass fixtures can contain lead. CVWD's extensive water quality testing program includes regular visits to homes with copper pipes and lead solder to test the water coming out of the faucet. The results of these tests show no problem like what occurred in Flint exists here. This can be attributed to a consistent groundwater supply that forms a natural mineral coating in local water pipes and plumbing fixtures.

For more information, please read CVWD's Annual Review and Drinking Water Report.

The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.

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