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UPDATE: SCV water quality gets high marks from state health officials

Posted: June 18, 2014 9:46 a.m.
Updated: June 18, 2014 5:50 p.m.

While beer brewed with local water may turn out a little funky due to miniscule amounts of metal, the drinking water in the Santa Clarita Valley is safe, clean and problem-free, according to a California Department of Public Health report released Wednesday.

The Santa Clarita Valley 2014 Annual Water Quality Report reveals the amounts of harmful chemicals, metals and other contaminants in Santa Clarita Valley tap water.

The bottom line of the study, conducted under the direction of the state Public Health Department, is that local water is completely safe to drink.

“Some aspects, such as sodium and potassium, affect beer making,” said Jeff Ford, principal water resources planner for Santa Clarita Valley’s water wholesaler, the Castaic Lake Water Agency. “Sometimes the beer comes out with a funny taste.”

In examining a list of worrisome potential water contaminants that includes metals such as lead and copper and inorganics such as arsenic, fluoride and nitrate, scientists found Santa Clarita Valley water well below the levels at which health officials demand cleanup.

Tests were done on more than 36 contaminants identified as health concerns by state officials, and none exceeded the limits of “safe” set by state health officials.

“Everything is below the drinking water threshold,” Ford said.

Two contaminants have sparked local concerns more than any of the others in recent years — chloride and perchlorate.

The health standards for chloride concentration are set well above the standard of 100 milligrams of chloride per liter expected by downstream Ventura County farmers for their salt-sensitive avocados.

The health department and the Environmental Protection Agency deem drinking water containing 250 milligrams per liter of chloride safe for human consumption, and as much as 500 mg/L safe to drink over short periods.

Chloride levels for drinking water tested during the past year average about 80 mg/L and range between 63 mg/L and 120 mg/L.

Although there exists no federal safety threshold set for perchlorate, California health officials in October 2007 set a threshold of 6 micrograms per liter of water for perchlorate.

Tests showed no perchlorate in Santa Clarita Valley drinking water, Ford said.

Perchlorate is an inorganic chemical used in solid rocket propellant, fireworks, explosives and a variety of industries.

It usually gets into drinking water as a result of environmental contamination from historic industrial operations that used, manufactured, stored or disposed of fuel, munitions or explosives.

It is believed to have entered Santa Clarita Valley groundwater through the former munitions manufacturing plant at the Whittaker-Bermite site.

Perchlorate has been shown to interfere with uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland, and thereby reduce the production of thyroid hormones leading to adverse affects associated with inadequate hormone levels.

Some local wells have tested positive for perchlorate, but those are either shut down or have a perchlorate treatment facility removing the chemical before the water is used.

Tests were carried out at the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s perchlorate treatment plant in Saugus. Equipment used to detect minute particles of harmful substances can detect one microscopic part of perchlorate in a billion parts of water, officials say.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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