"The public is much more aware of water quality, and we want to make
sure our customers know that things are not only OK but we continue to
monitor its safety every day," Leach said.
The Mesa Consolidated Water District provides about 22 million gallons
of drinking water daily to customers and must meet stringent
water-quality standards outlined by the California Department of Health
Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, officials said.
Earlier this year, the district shut three of its nine Fountain Valley
wells after a cancer-causing agent, 1,4-Dioxane, was found in the
county's aquifer. The wells were closed for more than a month, forcing up
costs at the district.
Mesa Consolidated Water District goes beyond the requirements and
performs more than 24,000 tests per year, Leach said.
The report is the culmination of data gathered in 2001 by water
quality, production and distribution staff, and outlines the levels of
various contaminants and their typical sources. Packaged as a glossy
brochure, the report explains that some level of contaminants are to be
expected but do not necessarily pose a health risk.
"We want people to know what they are reading and the work that goes
behind this type of report, so they don't just throw out the brochure or
disregard it as more junk mail," Leach said.
To ensure high-quality drinking water, about eight full-time staff
members are charged with the responsibility of testing water taken from
the 65 sampling stations around the city. Stations are light blue
pillars, about 2 feet high, that connect to the main system, with little
faucets that provide water samples.
Tracy Manning, water-quality specialist at Mesa Consolidated Water
District, said her staff monitors bacteria levels and chlorine residuals
in the water daily. Water that is tested for bacteria is stored in
sterile bottles and sent to a state certified laboratory for testing. All
testing for the annual report must be done by a state lab, but the
district does some of its own bacterial testing for supplemental data.
The state requires 25 bacterial samples to be taken weekly, Manning
said, and Mesa Consolidated Water District does 30. The additional five