August is National Water Quality Month

August is National Water Quality Month, a time to focus on something we usually take for granted. What are you doing to protect your sources of freshwater?

If you live in north or central Orange County you get your water from your local water agency and it’s there 24/7 when you turn on a tap. Where does that water come from? The 25 percent imported portion comes from the Colorado River that starts far away in Colorado and from the California Water Project all the way from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Three-quarters of your water is found, literally, beneath your feet in the large Orange County Groundwater Basin. How can you protect your sources of water?

For the imported water, be aware of events and legislation that could impact the quality of your water and vote accordingly. Locally, urban runoff, wastewater, farms and industrial waste are the biggest man-made culprits contaminating our groundwater.

Individuals, like you, can take these simple steps to help protect your local water source:

  • Put only water down storm drains
  • Avoid using chemical fertilizers and pesticides
  • Choose nontoxic cleaners and avoid antibacterial cleaners
  • Never put medications down the drain or toilet
  • Pick up after your pets

LaboratoryOne of the many duties of the Orange County Water District is making sure that you receive quality water. According to OCWD’s Advanced Water Quality Assurance Laboratory Director Lee Yoo, “OCWD implements a proactive, diverse and comprehensive groundwater and surface water monitoring program to continually generate real-time data as part of our commitment to exceptional water quality.”

The District’s testing capabilities are quite an accomplishment. “OCWD can monitor contaminants in its groundwater basin down to one part per trillion. That is like looking for one drop of contaminant in a volume of water large enough to fill 26 Olympic-size pools,” says Lee.

OCWD Water Quality and Regulations employees are also among the 400 water utilities, laboratories, and government agencies learning the most recent updates about the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) for Public Water Systems.

The UCMR Program develops a list of contaminants every five years and collects occurrence data for suspected drinking water contaminants that don’t have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This information is then used to support future regulatory decision-making and supports the administrator’s determination of whether (or not) to regulate a contaminant listed in the UCMR Program.

“UCMR is one of the exceptional water quality standards provided by the District lab and water quality department. We are able to incorporate upgrades and changes as they occur, which ensures our 19 member agencies and the 2.4 million people they serve are receiving superior quality water,” says Lee.