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Chico, California Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Chico, California

Where does Chico get its water from? Butte Basin, the groundwater basin underlying Chico, supplies the majority of municipal and agricultural water demands of the City. Approximately 60 percent of the water pumped for the City and most of the runoff from impervious development returns to either the groundwater system as recharge or the surface water system as discharge. Another 16 percent returns through septic systems. The portion of water that does not return to the aquifer is consumed by landscape plants or is discharged as treated wastewater to the Sacramento River. In addition, the groundwater system is largely sustained by recharge in the foothills located east of Chico, streamflow infiltration from Big Chico and Little Chico creeks and Lindo Channel, and to a lesser degree by direct infiltration of precipitation.

The Chico‐Hamilton City District (district) of the California Service Water Company (Cal Water Chico) is the sole water service agency in the City and a member of the Butte Basin Water Users Association. Cal Water Chico is a private company that operates the public water system, and serves nearly 25,200 water service customers within the district (Figure 4.1‐1). Residents not currently supplied by Cal Water Chico obtain their water through private wells. Agricultural water demand (discussed further below) is also met through private wells.

Cal Water Chico pumps groundwater out of Butte Basin at 65 total (63 active) municipal wells that have a design capacity of 85.7 million gallons per day (mgd), or 31.3 billion gallons per year. The maximum day demand in 2004 is estimated to be 52.2 mgd.

Cal Water Chico has sufficient groundwater production capacity to supply all of the current annual average day and maximum day demand through the year 2015. However, the future maximum day demand will be greater than the current pumping design capacity sometime before 2020. The MSR prepared for water services in Chico concluded that continued use of conservation measures by Cal Water Chico will be necessary to ensure its water supply will not be depleted with the anticipated growth in the area.

The static water level of the groundwater in the Chico District has remained relatively unchanged over the last 37 years. Drought conditions have caused water levels to decline, but significant recharge has been noted. The effect of increased demand on this aquifer was studied by Hydrologic Consultants Inc. in 1997. This study concluded that water levels in the basin are sufficient to meet demand in the area until 2012. At that point, the groundwater levels in the aquifer will have declined by approximately eight feet of the 1200 foot saturated thickness of the aquifer beneath Chico.

Does Chico put fluoride in its water? Is Chico's water safe to drink?

Source: City of Chico, CA

Contaminants Found in Chico, California's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines*)

Arsenic

3rd party independent testing found that this utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and bedrock in parts of the United States. Commercial activities that could have left arsenic in our soil and water include, apple orchard spraying, coal ash disposal, use of pressure treated wood. Arsenic has no smell, taste, or color when dissolved in water, even in high concentrations, so only laboratory analysis can detect its presence and concentration. What are the risks of drinking tap water with arsenic? Cancer. Chronic exposure to arsenic is also associated with an increased risk of skin, bladder, and lung cancer. There is also evidence that long-term exposure to arsenic can increase risks for kidney and prostate cancer. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.

Chromium (hexavalent)

3rd party independent testing found that this water utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. The movie Erin Brockovich alerted the public to the great suffering the little town of Hinkley, California experienced due to hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Today, Hinkley is little more than a ghost town thanks to continued water contamination, health concerns, and plummeting property values. Chromium (hexavalent) is a carcinogen that commonly contaminates American drinking water. Chromium (hexavalent) in drinking water may be due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater. What are the risks of drinking tap water with Chromium (hexavalent)? Cancer. A 2008 study by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that chromium-6 in drinking water caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice. That study and other research led scientists at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to conclude that chromium-6 can cause cancer in people. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.

Nitrate

3rd party independent testing found that this water utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas. Nitrate gets into water from fertilizer runoff, manure from large animal feeding operations and wastewater treatment plant effluent. It is regulated in drinking water primarily because excess levels can cause methemoglobinemia, or "blue baby" disease. What are the risks of drinking tap water with nitrate? Cancer & Child Development. Scientists at the National Cancer Institute found a greater incidence of bladder cancer among people who drank water with nitrate concentrations above half the federal limit. Some studies also report that nitrate contamination of tap water can increase the risk of developmental defects for children born to mothers who drank nitrate-contaminated water during pregnancy. Find out more about this contaminant and how to remove it here.  

Perfluorinated Chemicals

3rd party independent testing found that this water utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs), also referred to as perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), are a large group of environmentally persistent manufactured chemicals used in industrial applications and consumer products (ex: Teflon, Gor-Tex). 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.

Tetrachloroethylene (Perchloroethylene)

3rd party independent testing found that this water utility exceeds health guidelines for this drinking water contaminant. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is a colorless organic liquid with a mild, chloroform-like odor. Its greatest use is in the textile industry, and as a component of aerosol dry-cleaning products. The maximum contaminant level for Tetrachloroethylene has been set at zero because EPA believes there is no safe level of this contaminant. People who drink water containing tetrachloroethylene in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Level over many years could have problems with their liver and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. What are the risks of drinking tap water with Tetrachloroethylene? Liver Issues & Cancer. People who drink water containing tetrachloroethylene in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Level over many years could have problems with their liver and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. 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.

What are the best type 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, the taste and smell of the water and 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.

 Filter Design

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 the 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 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.

Better Filtration

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 like Woder, Brita, Pur, and Invigorated Water 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 Reverse Osmosis?

RO filter systems do remove a lot of contaminants. There are 5 major downsides to a Reverse Osmosis System. The first major downside to RO systems is they are expensive. Most RO Systems cost 2x to 3x more than a carbon block system and usually have 4 to 6 small filters that need to be replaced each year. The second downside is that Reverse Osmosis wastes a lot of water. Each RO system wastes an average of 5 to 6 gallons for every 1 gallon of drinking water it produces. The third downside (and biggest downside of Reverse Osmosis in our minds) is that they remove trace minerals and other beneficial substances found in water that your body needs like calcium, manganese, iron and other important nutrients. This is why RO water is considered by many in the natural health world to be dead water and it is said that demineralized water is detrimental to general health due to vitamin and mineral depletion. The fourth major downside of RO systems is that after your water passes through the filter process, it sits inside of a steel drum that is lined with a butyl rubber bladder which is made from polyisobutylene. The filtered water sits in this butyl rubber bladder until it is used. All rubber and plastic containers leach into water at some level. The fifth and last major downside regarding RO Systems is that because the RO filtration process strips out all of the good nutrients in water, some RO companies think they can add a "Remineralization Cartridge" at the end of the filtration process to replace all of the good stuff that nature originally had in the water (Yikes!). Also, most of these "Remineralization cartridges" that we have seen in the marketplace come from China. Generally we have found that when scientists or businessmen try to mimic nature, they miss badly.

Solid carbon block filters do not have these issues. Epic Water Filters is committed to finding the best ways to filter contaminants out of your water for a healthier life and solid activated carbon block filters are what we believe to be the best overall filters. 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 support@epicwaterfilters.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

*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 maybe 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.


April Jones

A Colorado based hiker, blogger, and water quality expert.  

Impacted Zip Codes: 95926 95928 95973

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