If you’re from Los Angeles you’ve probably heard the rumors about Los Angeles tap water. Is Los Angeles tap water safe to drink? That might depend on who you ask. The city seems to think it’s fine, but there are still contaminants that are in Los Angeles drinking water. Keep reading to learn more about where Los Angeles drinking water comes from and what’s in it.
Where Does Los Angeles Tap Water Come From?
Los Angeles drinking water is part of California’s interconnected water system. In fact, over 30 million people get their water from this system. Thanks to an interweaved group of pipelines and canals, Los Angeles is able to get the vast majority – around 90% – of their water from the Colorado River and/or the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta.
Along with that, the Owens River, reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Mono Lake Basin constitute about 1/3 (430 million gallons) of the total water supply in Los Angeles. The water is transported to the city through the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Groundwater sources also add to another 10% of the total water supply.
Can You Drink Los Angeles Water from the Faucet?
Can you drink Los Angeles water? It depends. The city seems to think so. In the Los Angeles County Water Report they say that the water in Los Angeles is as safe as bottled water. While it is generally assumed that bottled water is always safer than tap water that’s not always true. The EPA makes stringent guidelines regulating tap water. Bottled water, on the other hand, is marketed as a food and regulated by the FDA.
Companies aren’t required to share the specifics of their water tests with bottled water, so there is no way for the consumer to distinguish the best or safest brands. So, comparing the Los Angeles tap water to bottled water, may mean that could be safe to drink, or not.
Los Angeles drinking water has over 20 contaminants in it. Some of those contaminants are higher than recommended guidelines and many others are just present in detectable levels. That said, all of these contaminants can cause a variety of health problems. A great way to improve the Los Angeles water quality in your own home is with a water filter. If you’re unfamiliar with water filters, you can look to water filter reviews to choose the best water filter for your needs.
What Contaminants are in Los Angeles Drinking Water?
The reality is that Los Angeles tap water has over 20 contaminants in it, according to the EWG Tap Water Database. While there are five contaminants above health guidelines, there are sixteen additional contaminants that are present and detectable that you consume in Los Angeles drinking water.
First let’s look at the contaminants that are present above the recommended guidelines:
- Arsenic – Commonly found in drinking water, Arsenic is a carcinogen and causes thousands of new cases of cancer in the U.S. every year.
- Bromate – Also a carcinogen, bromate is a byproduct of disinfection commonly found in source waters that are treated with sodium hypochlorite or ozonation.
- Chromium (hexavalent) – Chromium is a common carcinogen found in tap water. It is commonly a byproduct of industrial pollution or from mineral deposits that can be found in groundwater.
- Radiological contaminants – Contaminants like uranium and other radiological contaminants can get into water due to mining. Among the problems caused by these contaminants are cancer and fetal development issues.
- TTHMs (Total trihalomethanes) – TTHMs are formed during water treatment. Like many of the other contaminants mentioned, these four chemicals can cause cancer.
There are a number of other contaminants found in Los Angeles drinking water. There are 16 other contaminants total, which fall into the acceptable level, even though they are present. The following contaminants are all known carcinogens.
- Chromium (total)
The remaining contaminants found in Los Angeles tap water include:
- Bromide – This natural element often ends up mixing with disinfectants creating toxic tap water due to the byproducts of disinfection.
- Chlorate – Another byproduct of disinfection, chlorate can impair thyroid functioning, which is a particular risk for children and during pregnancy.
- Chlorodifluoromethane – Also known as Freon22, this solvent found in Los Angeles tap water can cause liver damage, heart problems, or damage to the nervous system.
- Chromium (total) – Chromium, not associated with hexavalent chromium, is a metal is found in water as a result of industrial usage.
- Haloacetic acids or HAA5 – These five haloacetic acids typically form when disinfectants such as chlorine are added to treat water.
- Molybdenum – This metal occurs in mineral, soils, and water. Ingesting large amounts can cause an increase in uric acid, which creates symptoms similar to gout.
- Nitrate – This chemical found in fertilizer is commonly a byproduct of urban runoff. It can also be caused by discharge of septic tanks during water treatment. Associated health problems include oxygen deprivation in infants.
- Trichlorofluoromethane – Freon11 is a solvent sometimes found in water that can cause the same issues other Freon products, including damage to the heart, liver, or nervous system.
- Vanadium – This metal is used in the creation of some steels. Commonly found in water, excessive amounts have been known to be toxic to children and women that are pregnant.
Water Filter Recommendations
By now you might be worried about the state of Los Angeles drinking water, but don’t fret for too long. You can vastly improve Los Angeles water quality by using a water filter. If you have a large home, you can get a whole house water filter, which will go a long way to improving the water quality in your entire home. If you live in a smaller home, apartment, or you’re working on a budget you can also try out faucet water filters or even a simple water filter pitcher.
Some good choices for water filters include:
- Whole House Filter – Aquasana
- Faucet Filter – Wingsol water filter
- Water Filter Pitcher – AquaGear Water Filter Pitcher
There are also water filters that can improve specific contaminants in your Los Angeles tap water. You can purchase filters that will remove or reduce Lead, Chlorine, Fluoride, or other contaminants.
Can you drink Los Angeles water? Given the number of present contaminants, it’s probably best to do so with a water filter. The good news is that water filters are readily available, come in many shapes and sizes, and often are quite affordable. If you have any questions about water filters or Los Angeles drinking water, feel free to leave us a comment!
Alternatives to Tap Water
It’s imperative to have healthy and purified water. In the absence of filtered tap water, you need to look out for viable alternatives. Although most households use high-grade water filters, knowing some of the alternatives to tap water makes sense. In case you don’t have access to a water filter, these options will prove to be handy.
Bottled water can save your day, not only while traveling, but even at home in the absence of filtered water. However, this wouldn’t be an economical option, as drinking bottled water constantly can get expensive.
Moreover, bottled water is no healthier than tap or filtered water. Although the brands spend hundreds of dollars in their advertisements to prove their qualitative superiority over filtered water, no evidence supports these claims. Bottled water would simply add to your expenses.
When you purchase bottled water, make sure to get it from one of the reputed brands. Some more basic brands are known to provide bottled water with contaminants. Remember, plastic bottles undergo chemical leaching under heat. Therefore, store bottled waters in shady areas so that they don’t end up causing health issues.
Purified and Distilled Water
Although you have an option in purified and distilled water, consuming this type of water regularly can lead to health hazards. Water contains certain minerals that are healthy and necessary for your body.
Reverse osmosis, the mechanism used to distill water, does away with many contaminants. However, along with this, it also removes some of the beneficial minerals.
Moreover, the reverse osmosis system may not be effective in removing some critical elements that tap water contains, like VOCs (volatile organic chemicals), pharmaceuticals, different synthetic chemicals, chlorine, and chloramines.
During the distillation process, the water is boiled, evaporated, and subsequently, the vapor gets condensed. However, this water isn’t the same as filtered water. On regular intake, distilled water can increase the acid balance in your body while robbing you of the good minerals. It also won’t hydrate your body as well as filtered water.
What Makes Filtered Water a Better Option?
You can enjoy mineral-rich and clean drinking water at home with filtered water. Households can also use this water for cleaning purposes. This is a more cost-effective alternative to tap water in LA, and you’ll have complete control over the quality of your water. Besides, it’s easy and convenient to use a water filter.
Considering these aspects, it’d be smart to choose a branded water filter rather than indulging in expensive options like bottled water. Distilled water, as explained, fails to purify and enhance the taste and odor of water like water filters do.
Ph.D. graduate working as a water quality consultant for many government agencies helping them find solutions to the ever-growing problem of polluted water. Loves a good coffee!