Here are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water:
- Run your water to flush out lead. If it hasn’t been used for several hours, run the water for three to five minutes to clear most of the lead from the water. To conserve water, remember to catch the flushed tap water for plants, cleaning or flushing toilets.
- Always use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Never cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Never use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
- Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
- Periodically remove and clean the faucet screen/aerator. While removed, run the water to eliminate debris.
- You may consider investing in a point-of-use home water treatment device. When purchasing a water treatment device, make sure it is certified under NSF/ANSI 53 to remove lead.
- Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Brass faucets, fittings and valves may leach lead into drinking water. Products sold in California after the 2010 law went into effect must contain very low levels of lead.
- Have a licensed electrician check your wiring. Your home electrical system may be attached to your service line or elsewhere in your plumbing.
If you’re concerned your home plumbing may contain lead in its pipes or fittings, you may want to have your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Testing is the only way to confirm if lead is present or absent. For more information on testing your water, contact a drinking water laboratory. Here are three in our area:
Soil Control Lab (831) 724-5422
Monterey Bay Analytical Services (831) 375-6227
Bolsa Analytical Lab (831) 637-4590
Regulatory measures taken during the last two decades have greatly reduced human exposure to lead in drinking water.
- In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires the EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur with an adequate margin of safety.
- In 1991, the EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water. This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule. The EPA revised the regulation in 2000 and 2007.
- Limits on the amount of lead that can be used in plumbing products have also been set. These requirements were first enacted federally in 1986 and then reduced to even lower levels by California in 2006.
Lead is rarely found to naturally exist in water supply sources, like surface water or groundwater. More commonly, lead leaches into water over time through corrosion—a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets (brass) and fittings. Lead service lines and pipes have not been found to be used in construction in the Scotts Valley Water District. Therefore, sources of lead in our drinking water are primarily limited to lead-based solder and fixtures located at residential and commercial sites where water is received. The amount of lead in your water depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the water’s corrosivity, and water temperature.
Lead can cause a variety of adverse health effects when people are exposed. These effects may include increases in blood pressure for adults; delays in normal physical and mental development in babies and young children; and deficits in the attention span, hearing, and learning abilities of children.
The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978.
Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, lead also can be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 10-20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water.
Scotts Valley Water District tests for lead quarterly in source water pumped from wells and treated water as it leaves the treatment plants. Our samples are always negative for lead. Since 1993, the District also regularly has tested the water at a selected number of higher-risk homes. These homes were constructed using copper pipes with lead solder prior to the 1986 federal ban on lead solder. Our monitoring is conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements and guidance.
Flushing is done for three reasons:
a) to remove sediment build up inside of pipes; and
b) to perform inspections on valves, hydrants, and mains; and
c) to comply with California Water Resources Control Board regulations.
The Scotts Valley region is experiencing a period of extended drought. Over the past three years, rainfall is a cumulative 52 inches below normal. Although groundwater level data collected in 2013 from production and monitoring wells indicate that groundwater levels are remaining within recent trends of decline and recovery, ongoing monitoring is important to better assess the long-term impact of the drought on the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin. SVWD maintains a number of ongoing programs to support the sustainable management of the groundwater resource including water conservation and the use of recycled water.
When the water in your main service line gets stirred up, it can cause the sediment that has settled in the bottom to come through your faucets. This can typically be cleared up by flushing out your system. Simply go to an outside hose bib or, if you don’t have an outside hose bib, the faucet that is the farthest from the street. Turn the cold water on and let it run for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the color has cleared up. It is important to use cold water while you flush so that the sediment does not get drawn into your hot water heater and take much longer to flush out. If you have further questions or need more assistance, please contact us.
Recycled water in Scotts Valley is typically used for commercial, industrial, institutional, and home owners association (HOA) customers. We currently do not serve individual single family homes unless they are part of an HOA which shares one or more landscape irrigation meters and qualifies for recycled water service. For more information please visit our Recycled Water page.
- Decreases the extraction of water from sources that may be declining due to drought conditions or overuse from human consumption.
- Recycling wastewater can decrease the amount of wastewater discharge of effluents that may damage and pollute the ecosystems of the bodies of water in which it is being discharged to.
- Treated and processed wastewater can be used for useful purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes and replenishing groundwater sources such as basins.
- Recycled water has been used to reestablish or create new wetlands which create multiple benefits to local ecosystems and groundwater resources.
The recycled water distributed by SVWD may be used for many non-potable uses including construction purposes, irrigation of schools, parks, golf courses, HOA common landscape areas and commercial landscapes, and irrigation of all types of food crops (including those eaten raw).
Recycled water is wastewater that has received advanced treatment so that it can be safely used for irrigation and other non-potable uses. Recycled water supplied by SVWD, meets all the requirements set by the California Department of Health Services, which are the most stringent in the world. SVWD distributes disinfected tertiary recycled water, the highest of four classes of recycled water recognized in current regulations. Learn more about recycled water here.
Drinking water standards are adopted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Drinking Water Program pursuant to the California Safe Drinkiing Water Act. Drinking water standards are enforced and monitored by the CDPH and local health departments.
SVWD water, which comes from groundwater wells, has continuously met or exceeded every water quality standard set by State and Federal Water Quality Standards.
SVWD monitors water quality at the groundwater production wells for the constituents required by the Safe Drinking Water Act and under Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. The District annually prepares and distributes the SVWD Annual Water Quality Report to keep customers informed on water quality issues. This report provides the public with detailed results of water-quality testing, a description of the water source, answers to common questions about water quality, and other useful water quality information.
The Scotts Valley Water District's annual water quality report can be found here.
SVWD relies on groundwater sources from the regional Santa Margarita Basin. The groundwater is stored in the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin which is made up of the Santa Margarita Sandstone, Monterey Shale, Lompico and Butano formations. Rainfall is the source of recharge to the basin.
The District shares the groundwater basin with other users including neighboring San Lorenzo Valley Water District, Lompico Water District and Mañana Woods Mutual Water Company, as well as local businesses and residences using private wells.