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Water-quality report set for release

June 12, 2002

Lolita Harper

COSTA MESA -- The city's water supply is safe, according to a report

set for release next month.

The Mesa Consolidated Water District Report for 2002 will be mailed to

customers in July, said General Manager Diana Leach, and will detail the

results of various daily tests that are done to ensure safe drinking

water.

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"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

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