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World Water Day Message from SAWPA – Tap Water is Rigorously Tested and Safe to Drink
World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources and is celebrated around the world with a variety of events. Events are celebrated through educational, theatrical and musical events or may include lobbying to spread this year’s message that whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right.
The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA), which stretches some 75 miles from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in Orange County, is celebrating World Water Day by educating its customers that the tap water that comes to their home is safe to drink. All tap water in Southern California and across the United States undergoes mandatory daily testing at certified laboratories to ensure it meets or exceeds standards. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public tap water providers conduct comprehensive water quality testing by certified laboratories as well as provide annual water quality reports to its customers.
“Billions of people around the world are still living without safe, clean drinking water,” said Mark Norton, SAWPA Water Resources & Planning Manager. “While a sustainable global solution is in development, we want to remind our customers that their water is safe and tested daily to ensure it meets the highest state and federal standards before it reaches them.”
Although water in SAWPA’s geographical footprint is rigorously tested the region is home to large populations of immigrants who may have previously resided in countries where tap water is not safe to drink or they may have been taught by their immigrant parents that tap drink is not safe for human consumption. Consequently, they may still rely on boiling water before consuming it or they may depend on bottled water, water stores and/or water vending machines for the water they orally use and consume.
Clean, potable water other than tap water can present specific issues. Bottled water is tested less frequently than tap-water and is stored in plastic containers that may leach toxic chemicals. Currently, there are no testing standards for plastic bottles that can leach toxins into the water nor is testing done for possible bacteria that might form in water bottles.
Water from water stores is supposed to be monitored and regulated, but often inspections are not consistent and water quality can be unreliable. Customers’ water jugs may also contain bacteria and bottles used to collect water from stores and machines are often used multiple times increasing the risk for bacterial growth. Individual, reusable water bottles should be washed thoroughly after each use and rinsed in clear, hot water to thwart the risk of bacterial growth.
Another concern in not drinking tap water is the increase in consumption of sugary, high-calorie drinks, including soda, juice and sports drinks. Substituting these beverages for water can result in poor health habits and be a contributor to obesity and diabetes.
“Customers can also save money when they choose tap water; a gallon of tap water is less than .03 cents versus up to $2.50 for a gallon of bottled water,” said SAWPA’s Norton. “Spending more on bottled water doesn’t guarantee better quality. We recommend investing in a reusable water bottle to fill up with tap water or even use a home filter if you prefer the taste of filtered water.”
Public tap water in the United States undergoes mandatory daily testing at certified laboratories as is required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Water must meet or exceed the required standards and public water providers must provide annual water quality reports to its customers.
March 22 is International World Water Day. This specified day was established in 1993 by the United Nations and is held annually as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of fresh water resources. To learn more about International World Water Day, go to: http://www.un.org/en/events/waterday/.