Sources Of Drinking Water in Berkeley, California
Where does Berkeley get its water from? The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) supplies water to residents of Alameda and Contra Costa County, sourced from the Mokelumne River watershed in the Sierra Foothills. EBMUD acquired water rights to the river in the early 1920s and constructed Pardee Dam, which formed Pardee Reservoir. This reservoir serves as the water source for over 1.2 million people across 22 East Bay cities, including Oakland, Berkeley, and others, extending from San Lorenzo to Crockett. To transport the water from Pardee Reservoir to Walnut Creek, a distance of over 80 miles, three 6-foot-wide steel aqueducts are used. Gravity alone can move up to 202 million gallons of water per day, and with all three aqueducts operational along with pumping plants, EBMUD can transport up to 325 million gallons.
The energy required for water treatment and pumping, including over the East Bay hills, is equivalent to the energy needed to power approximately 95 million homes. From Walnut Creek, the water is directed either to a treatment plant in Orinda or to three East Bay reservoirs, where it combines with local runoff before reaching two additional treatment plants. These reservoirs collectively store enough water to sustain the local population for four to six months. Following treatment, which involves the addition of chloramine and fluoride, the water travels through an extensive network of more than 3,944 miles of distribution pipes and 164 neighborhood reservoirs, ultimately reaching businesses and households. Is Berkeley's water safe to drink? Does Berkeley put fluoride in the water?
Source: City of Berkeley, California
Contaminants Found in Berkeley's Water Supply
(Detected above health guidelines*)
Haloacetic acids (HAA5 HAA9)
3rd party independent testing found that this water utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. Haloacetic acids (HAAs) are a type of chlorination disinfection by-product that are formed when the chlorine used to disinfect drinking water reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in water. Haloacetic acids are a relatively new disinfection by-product of modern water treatment methods. What are the risks of drinking tap water with Haloacetic acids (HAA5 & HAA9)? Cancer. Some people who drink water containing Haloacetic Acids at higher than normal levels over many years may have a higher risk of getting cancer. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.
There is no available testing for microplastics from this water utility. Microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment and have been detected in a broad range of concentrations in marine water, wastewater, fresh water, food, air and drinking-water, both bottled and tap water. A recent study by Orb analyzed 159 water samples, sourced from both tap water and bottled water in 14 countries, and found that over 80% of all samples contained tiny plastic particles, with an average of 4.34 plastic particles per liter of water. Even more surprising, 94% of water samples from the United States contained microplastics, which topped the list. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.
Perfluorinated PFAS (Forever Chemical)
There is no available testing for PFAS from this water utility. You can’t see or taste them, but there are more than 12,000 chemicals including GenX, PFBS, PFHxS, PFBA, PFOS, PFPA, PFHxA, PFHpA, PFOA, & PFDA, that could be lurking in your drinking water, causing everything from birth defects to cancer. Broadly known as PFAS, short for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, these are dangerous man-made toxins that never break down, build up in our blood and organs, and could damage the health of millions. They come from persistent manufactured chemicals used in industrial applications and consumer products (ex: Teflon, Gor-Tex, Flame Resistance Children's Pajamas, etc.). By some estimates, 200 million Americans nationwide are likely drinking water polluted with these chemicals, and PFAS has been detected in the blood of 98% of our population. PFCs are very stable, slow to degrade in the environment. PFCs are highly soluble in aquatic environments and can dissolve into water from various sources. Due to their chemical and biological stability, PFCs are difficult to degrade via biodegradation, photolysis, or hydrolysis. They are most often found near industry discharge points where they have been used. Currently there are no enforceable federal drinking water limits for PFCs. What are the risks of drinking tap water with PFCs? Endocrine Disruption, Reproductive & Child Development Issues. PFCs are considered toxic and can lead to potential adverse health effects in humans and wildlife. Animal studies show that increased exposure to high concentrations of PFCs may cause abnormal endocrine activity, and reproductive and developmental problems. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.
Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
3rd party independent testing found that this water utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are the result of a reaction between the chlorine used for disinfecting tap water and natural organic matter in the water. At elevated levels, TTHMs have been associated with negative health effects such as cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes. Now a study by government and academic researchers adds to previous evidence that dermal absorption and inhalation of TTHMs associated with everyday tap water use can result in significantly higher blood TTHM concentrations than simply drinking the water does. What are the risks of drinking tap water with Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)? Cancer. Studies from around the world, including the United States & Europe have found that drinking tap water that carries Total Trihalomethanes increases the risk of developing cancer. In animal studies, all trihalomethanes cause liver, kidney and intestinal tumors. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.
There is a drinking water standard of 4 ppm for fluoride but there is no health guideline for this contaminant and much is unknown about the effects of fluoride long term on the human body. This water utility did not exceed the drinking water standard for fluoride but fluoride was found in their water. Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater and is also added to drinking water by many water systems. The fluoride that is added to water is not the naturally occurring kind, the main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry. Since these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — more so than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that the addition of silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, particularly among residents who live in homes with old pipes. What are the risks of drinking tap water with Fluoride? Unknown. A growing body of evidence reasonably indicates that fluoridated water, in addition to other sources of daily fluoride exposure, can cause or contribute to a range of serious effects, including neurological issues, arthritis, damage to the developing brain, reduced thyroid function, and possibly osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in adolescent males. Animal studies indicate a moderate level of evidence that support adverse effects on learning and memory in animals exposed to fluoride in the diet or drinking water. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.
What are the best types of filters to remove these contaminants?
Two dominant carbon filter choices are solid activated carbon blocks and granular activated carbon filters (GAC). Unfortunately, our tap water can contain tiny microscopic particles that impact your long term health. These tiny particles can also change the taste and smell of the water as well as contain microbiological organisms that can actually make people sick shortly after drinking. Fortunately, there are water filtration products that remove many of the impurities from water. These filters often use activated carbon; activated carbon is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption of contaminants or chemical reactions with the contaminants causing them to adhere to the carbon. At Epic Water Filters we use solid activated carbon blocks for our filters which we believe is the superior way to filter contaminants out of your water. Below we explain why we chose to use solid activated carbon block filters instead of a granular activated carbon filter.
Granular activated carbon filters (GAC) have loose granules of carbon that look like black grains of sand. These black grains of carbon, are dumped into a container and the water is forced to travel through the container to reach the other side, passing by all of the grains of carbon. Solid block carbon filters, on the other hand, are blocks of compressed activated carbon that are formed with the combination of heat and pressure. These filters force the water to try to find a way through the solid wall and thousands of layers of carbon until they reach a channel which leads the water out of the filter. Both filters are made from carbon that’s ground into small particulate sizes. Solid activated carbon blocks are ground even further into a fine mesh 7 to 19 times smaller than the (GAC).
Flow Channels & Contact Time
As water continually passes through (GAC) filters, flow channels begin to develop that allow the water to flow around the carbon. Flow channels also develop between the granules of carbon themselves, leading to less effective filtration as there is less and less contact time between the water and the carbon. Solid activated carbon blocks, on the other hand, are much tighter and won’t even let microbial cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium (7 to 10 Microns in size) pass through the filter without getting caught in the millions of layers of carbon. Because solid activated carbon blocks are compressed under pressure, they have millions and millions of different sized pores that cause the water to take a long slow path to get through the filter, increasing the contact time that the contaminated water has with the carbon looking for a way through. During this contact time is when harmful contaminants like lead, adhere to the carbon and are removed from water. This happens during a process called adsorption, the other filtration method that solid activated carbon blocks use is called depth filtration. This is where the thickness of the carbon block filter comes into play to help remove contaminants as they have to pass through these thick carbon walls. The downside of solid activated carbon blocks is that they are often so tight that they can often get plugged up with organic and non-organic matter, forcing owners to replace them on a more regular basis. This is why when you are using a Brita water pitcher filter (GAC), the filter will keep going and going long after it has stopped removing any water contaminants. A good 5 micron sediment filter in front of your carbon block filter is a good way to extend the life of the solid activated carbon blocks and make it more efficient.
Solid Activated Carbon Blocks vs. Granulated Activated Carbon
The (GAC) filters are cheap and simple to manufacture, which is why most water filtration companies choose this method for manufacturing. Solid activated carbon blocks on the other hand take longer to manufacture and are more expensive to make but with this expense you will get superior contaminant removal because the water must take a more strenuous path through millions of layers of compressed carbon before it reaches your drinking glass.
The solid activated carbon blocks, like the one used in the Epic Smart Shield & Epic Water Filter pitchers, remove more contaminants than the (GAC) filters due to the larger surface area and the thickness of the carbon walls, this is why Epic Water Filters has standardized on the solid activated carbon block design for our water pitchers and our under the sink water filter. (GAC) filters do not do enough to reduce contaminants, this is why they are not used when there is a chance of bacteria or cysts in the water. They are truly not "Epic'' so that is why we have passed on the (GAC) filter design and let our competitors use these loose packed carbon filters for sub-par contaminant removal. With solid activated carbon blocks the contaminants are in contact with more carbon for a longer period and therefore have more time to remove stubborn contaminants like lead (Epic Pure Pitcher 99.9% removal), fluoride (Epic Pure Pitcher 97.8% removal), and PFCs (Epic Pure Pitcher 99.8% removal). Carbon blocks can remove chlorine more effectively, eliminate undesirable odors, and removal of endocrine disruptors like volatile organic compounds. (GAC) filters, on the other hand, have small particles that move around under the pressure of water so they do not have as much uniformity throughout and therefore less contact time with the water and less contaminant removal.
What about Whole House or Point of Entry Filters?
Whole house filters (as known as Point of Entry) are good for certain things, but you should understand what they are good for and what they are not good for before investing in one. Because of the high flow rate needed at the water’s point of entry into your home, whole home filters do not have much contact time with the water. This is why they are usually large in size, to increase the contact time between water and the filter media. Whole home filters are generally set up in stages with some type of sediment filter first, followed by a large tank full of Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). There can be multiple stages in different systems but this doesn’t necessarily increase the removal capacity. It does, however, increase the price of the system. The water passes through the sediment filter first, which catches all of the dirt and debris and then runs through the large GAC tank to knock down chlorine. If you dig into the performance data sheet of some of these systems, you will see that the contaminants removed or reduced are not very impressive. This is why if you look at Whole House Water Filters vs Under Sink Water Filters, there is no comparison for contaminant removal. If you have the budget, whole home water filters or point of entry should just be your first line of defense in water filtration. It should never be the only water filter in your house. Anyone that tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you a “Whole Home Filter.”
What about Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter systems effectively eliminate numerous contaminants; however, they do come with five significant drawbacks. Firstly, RO systems tend to be expensive, with costs ranging from 2 to 3 times more than carbon block systems. Additionally, they typically require the replacement of 4 to 6 small filters each year, resulting in higher upfront and yearly maintenance expenses. Secondly, one major downside of RO systems is their high water wastage. On average, for every gallon of drinking water produced, RO systems waste about 5 to 6 gallons of water. The third and most significant drawback, in our opinion, is that RO water filters remove essential trace minerals and beneficial substances naturally found in water, such as calcium, manganese, iron, and other vital nutrients.
Many proponents of natural health argue that RO water is considered "dead water" due to the depletion of these important minerals and claim that demineralized water can have detrimental effects on overall health. The fourth drawback pertains to the storage of filtered water in a steel drum lined with a butyl rubber bladder made from a polyisobutylene base. Over time, all rubber and plastic bladders have some level of leaching into the water. Lastly, some RO companies attempt to address the mineral depletion issue by adding a "Remineralization Cartridge" at the end of the filtration process. However, many of these cartridges found in the market are sourced from China. Generally, attempts to replicate nature's processes often fall short, and solid carbon block filters do not face these concerns.
A Different Way
Are you ready to change the water you drink? Epic Water Filters has a wide range of American made water filtration products to fit your needs. Select the product that fits best for you and start reaping the health benefits of filtered water.
Have questions about your water? Great! We love to talk about all things water related. Call us @ 720-600-0371 M-F 9am to 5pm MST or email our support team your questions firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
"After purchasing the drinking bottle, I have used it every day and have told countless others about how excellent it is. The peace of mind that my filtered water gives me is so refreshing. I have now bought the jug filter for the kitchen and another for my mother. I will never have to use unfiltered water again. Thank you Epic Water Filters. You have made me very happy." - Andrea
If you are not 100% satisfied with any product purchased from Epic Water Filters, you may return the merchandise to us for a full, 100% refund. We are committed to stronger filters, safer water, less risk.
*3rd party review of tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards. Health guidelines, mentioned on this page, were established by independent scientists who reviewed the scientific evidence, federal and state legal limits for drinking water contaminants, health advisories and risk assessments, and incorporated them all into the health guidelines referenced here. Information on source water was obtained from city water quality reports and may be subject to change based on your location and zip code. Please consult the latest water quality report for your neighborhood or home address for more accurate information. It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports or Water Quality Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for by the EPA. Results of tests cited here were provided to an independent 3rd party by the state, as well as test information received from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database (ECHO). Water is very local so it is always recommended that you test your own tap water with a 3rd party laboratory. We have found 3rd party testing available from reputable labs between $150 to $400 but we do not give recommendations for labs. Currently we have not found a home water test kit that we would recommend and it is our opinion that TDS meters are not a reliable way to test water quality.