August 29, 2014: An Overview of Our Water’s Sampling and Testing Practices

The Water Department continues to receive and appropriately respond to complaints regarding the taste and odor of the water in Coalinga. City Staff would like to assure customers that their water is safe to drink.  There continues to be no hazardous conditions affecting the community’s water supply other than the drought’s affects to water quality in the State and Federal surface water systems, warm water conditions - normal for this time of year, and water conservation efforts.  Water suppliers, like the City have to perform daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually sampling and testing of the water as required by the State and Federal Government, which reaffirms and ensures the safety of our water to the community before it reaches your faucet. Water suppliers, including the City of Coalinga, are required to: watch, monitor, record and test, for many different parameters and constituents in the water at the water plant and in the water distribution systems and report the findings to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) monthly and to our Customers annually in the form of the Annual Water Quality Statement, which is included in your Utility Bill typically around July each year. This report is known as the Annual Water Quality Statement.  It shares and summarizes the results of the last 12 months of water sampling and testing, and how our water quality compares to regulatory requirements.

The City Water Department has a “Sampling Plan” that outlines where and when we test the water. The Sampling Plan is reviewed and approved by the SWRCB Water Engineers.  The City’s sample sites are placed throughout the City in accordance to the Sampling Plan and are constructed to State and Federal Standards.  It is at these sample sites we conduct routine and special sampling of the water we provide our customers.  The sample sites along with all of the components of the water system are inspected by SWRCB Inspectors. Water suppliers, like the City,do not normally take water samples at a home because the condition of any particular home’s plumbing it is not known and can affect the water sample’s integrity.  SWRCB guidelines for sampling sites require that routine samples be taken from an approved sampling site constructed to certain specifications. 

Water suppliers, like the City, are required to sample from a homeowner’s plumbing or faucetto test for Lead and Copper concentrations under regulation.  But for Lead and Copper sampling, there are approved sampling locations (homes) that meet criteria set by the Federal Government and State, which require monitoring for Lead and Copper at the customer’s faucet. 

On a weekly basis, water samples are collected from the sampling sites to be tested for bacteriological content and the disinfectant level is measured.  These samples are taken following a specific protocol and delivered to a State Approved Laboratory.  The results are reported to the City and directly to the State.  The purpose for weekly bacteria tests of your drinking water is that every water professional from City, to  State, and Federal Government is  very concerned about the  bacteria content of a water supply, which could make someone or a lot of people ill, and right away.  If during routine weekly sampling for bacteria shows that the water sample exceeds the limit and a second sample confirms it, we are required to notify the public right away and issue a "do not drink" or "boil water notice" because people can get sick right away from a bacteriological contamination.   This has not happened in our water system because we disinfectant the water and monitor for disinfectant levels regularly.

The smell and taste issue we are facing now is due to algae and does not pose a health risk.  Taste and odor, under drinking water regulations prescribed by the State and Federal Government is an aesthetic issue. You will not become ill due to smell and taste. 

The SWRCB staff is telling us that we are not alone as other water providers are facing the same issue with taste and odor. In San Diego, KBPS published a report on May 12 2014 indicating that San Diego County was dealing with musty tasting and smelling water.  The report stated: "Unfortunately, people with sensitive taste and smell can detect the compound in water at levels as low as 5 parts-per-trillion," he said. "By comparison, 1 part-per-trillion is equivalent to just 10 drops of geosmin (an odor causing form of algae) in enough water to fill the Rose Bowl."

 

The report can be viewed at:

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/may/12/musty-smell-san-diego-county-drinking-water-may-en/

 

The Metropolitan Water District, a major water provider in the Los Angeles basin to many cities stated in a report dated June 20, 2014: "Consumers in portions of three Southern California counties may detect an earthy and musty taste and odor in their tap water, but water quality experts stressed it is an aesthetic problem and not a health issue. "

 

The report can be viewed at: 

http://www.mwdh2o.com/mwdh2o/pages/news/press_releases/2014-06/Taste-Odor_FINAL.pdf

 

The Water Department continues to explore methods and processes with the SWRCB Engineers to address our taste and odor issue.  The Water Department is always available to help and can be reached by calling 559-935-1533. 

August 20, 2014: Taste and Odor in Coalinga Water Caused by Algae Blooms

The Water Department has received and responded to several complaints regarding the taste and odor of the water in Coalinga. City Staff would like to assure customers that their water is safe to drink; daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual water sampling and testing, as required by the State and Federal government, reaffirms and ensures the safety of our water to the community before it reaches your faucet. The taste and odor issue can be attributed to non-toxic algae present in our water supply, which comes from the Coalinga Canal. The warm weather and the continued drought are contributors to this problem.  The problem is not unique to Coalinga as other water utilities throughout the State are dealing with similar algae issues.  The Water Department is exploring methods and processes with the State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water engineers to deal with this problem. In the meantime, refrigerating the water in an open container may help in reducing the taste and odor.  The Water Department is always available to help you by phone at 559-935-1533.