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U.S. EPA REQUIRES 56 WATER SUPPLIERS TO TEST FOR LEAD, COPPER

Release Date: 10/2/1995
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

  (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced it has ordered 56 small California drinking water supply systems to monitor their tap water for lead and copper.  

     "We don't know whether or not these water systems have high levels of lead and copper," said Alexis Strauss, U.S. EPA's regional Water Management Division director. "As young children are at risk because they suffer much more from the effects of lead poisoning than adults, it's important for this monitoring to begin."

     Reducing children's exposure to lead is one of U.S. EPA's top priorities.  U.S. EPA offers technical assistance to water supply systems that must test their water.

      The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires small water supply systems serving 25 to 3,300 people to collect samples and report the results to U.S. EPA.  Most of these are in communities that operate their own water systems by drawing water from wells or other sources.  The 56 systems that received the testing order failed to comply with this requirement.

     Small water systems at high risk for lead contamination are those with new lead solder applied since 1982 and those with lead service lines.  If a system exceeds the U.S. EPA's lead contamination "action level" of 15 parts per billion in 10 percent of the samples taken, then it must take steps to reduce lead levels, perform additional monitoring, alert the community and pediatricians, and, in the case of schools, inform parents and students of the lead levels.

     The main cause of lead in drinking water is the corrosion of lead from pipes, solder and fixtures.  The more corrosive the water leaving a treatment plant, the greater the chance that this water will leach lead from plumbing, carrying it to the consumer. Water suppliers can greatly reduce the amount of lead at the tap by minimizing the corrosivity of the water.
                                     
     Lead levels in drinking water are generally low in California. Most childhood exposure to lead comes from old paint, soil and dust. Lead can interfere with the formation of red blood cells, reduce birth weight, cause premature birth, delay physical and mental development in babies and young children, and impair mental abilities of children in general. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and interfere with hearing. At high levels of exposure, lead can cause anemia, kidney damage, and mental retardation. Health effects from lead generally result from combined exposure from all lead sources.

     Copper, like lead, occurs in drinking water primarily as a corrosion by-product. Copper is a nutritionally essential element, but at high doses it causes gastric distress.
     
     The water supply systems that have been ordered to monitor
their drinking water for lead and copper are:

Agate Bay Water Co., Carnelian Bay, 96140
Amarillo Mutual Water Co., Rosemead, 91770
Aromas Water District, Aromas, 95004
Averydale Mutual Water Co., Lancaster, 93535
Big Basin Water Co., Santa Cruz, 95060
Biggs, City of, 95917
Caruthers Community Service District, Caruthers, 93609
Cerritos College, Norwalk, 90650
Clearlake Oaks County Water District, Clearlake Oaks, 95423
Crown City Plating Co., El Monte, 91731
Denair Community Services District, Denair, 95316
Donner Lake Water Co., Chico, 95927
East Blythe County Water District, Blythe, 922225
Eastside Water Assoc., Midway City, 92655
Esparto Community Services District, Esparto, 95627
Fall River Mills Community Services District, 96028
Farm Mutual Water Co., Lake Elsinore, 92532
Hanford Joint Union High School, East Campus, Hanford, 93230
Heber Public Utility District, Heber, 92249
Home Garden Community Service District, Hanford, 93220
Kaiser Ventures Inc., Desert Center, 92239
Kern Co. Sheriff's Dept., Bakersfield, 93308
Kinneloa Irrigation Dist., Pasadena, 91107
Konocti Harbor Resort and Spa, Kelseyville, 95451
Lake Elizabeth Mutual Water Co., Lake Elizabeth, 93532
Lincoln Property Co., Foster City, 94404
Little Bear Water Co., King City, 93930
London Community Services District, Dinuba, 93618
Lost Hills Utility District, Lost Hills, 93249
Lucerne Water Co., Lucerne, 95458
Lukins Brothers Water Co., South Lake Tahoe, 96150
Lynwood Park Mutual Water Co., Compton, 90222
Mariposa Public Utility District, Mariposa, 95338
Menlo School, Atherton, 94027
Mountain Gate Community Services District, Redding, 96003
Pacific Union College, Angwin, 94508
Pajaro/Sunnymesa Community Services District, Watsonville, 95076
Pine Valley Municipal Water Co., Pine Valley, 91962
Pinecrest Permittees Assoc., Pinecrest, 95364
Richgrove Community Services District, Richgrove, 93261
Rio Vista, City of, 94571
San Antonio Water Co., Upland, 91786
San Benito Joint Union High, Hollister, 95023
San Juan Bautista, City of, 95045
Sheep Creek Water Co., Phelan, 92329
Sierra Lakes County Water District, Soda Springs, 95728
Stinson Beach Mutual Water Co., Stinson Beach, 94970
Tahoe Cedars Water Co., Tahoma, 96142
Tahoe Park Water Co., Tahoe City, 96145
Talmont Resort Improvement District, Tahoe City, 96145
Terrace Water Co., Colton, 92324
Trinity Co. Waterworks District #1, Hayfork, 96041
U.S.D.A., Forest Service, Monterey Ranger Dist., King City, 93930
Weed, City of 96094
Westmorland, City of, 92281
Yermo Water Co., Barstow, 92398


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