Water Quality FAQ's
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- Is my water safe to drink?
- How do I determine the quality of my water?
- Why must chlorine be added to the water?
- Why is my drinking water discolored?
- My drinking water often looks cloudy when first taken from a faucet and then it clears. Why is that?
- How do you get rid of the black film around the toilet?
- What causes a rust stain?
- Why does my water smell like rotten eggs or sewage?
- What is the difference between "hard" and "soft" water?
- Why does my dishwasher leave spots on my glasses?
- Why are there white deposits found around my showerhead?
- Why is fluoride added to the drinking water?
- What is the maximum fluoride level allowed in drinking water?
- Can fluoride occur naturally in the water supplies?
In this context, "safe" is a relative term that must be considered based on each individual's health and overall well-being. Drinking water can reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some impurities. As long as those impurities are at levels no higher than those set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or CA State Water Resources Control Board drinking water standards, the water is considered safe to drink for healthy people. People with severely weakened immune systems or other specific health conditions should consult with their personal physicians to discuss their drinking water needs. Those who wish to take extra measures to avoid waterborne illnesses due to pathogens can bring their drinking water to a boil for a full minute.
At the City of Garden Grove Water, we routinely sample and analyze our source water, water quality throughout our treatment process and throughout our distribution (pipeline) system to deliver water service that meets all the drinking water standards established by the state and federal regulations. Summaries of our test results are distributed to our customers annually in a Water Quality Report. Customers who wish to have further testing might opt to pay to have their water tested by a state accredited laboratory.
Chlorine is added to the water for the customer's protection. It is a disinfectant that is used to provide continuous protection against microbial contamination. Regulations require minimum chlorine residual to be present in the water at the furthest point of the distribution system. Consequently, customers who live or work closest to the facility might experience higher levels of chlorine.
White or cloudy water:
The cloudiness in your water is typically caused by tiny air bubbles in the water. This occurs when air is entrapped in the water, similar to carbon dioxide in a bottle of soda. When you turn on your tap, the pressure is released, allowing the bubbles to appear, just as removing the cap from a soda bottle causes the soda to fizz. The rate and degree to which this occurs is directly related to water temperature and more so to temperature changes. This cloudiness occurs more often in winter when the drinking water is cold and the home, along with its plumbing is heated. If you allow a glass of water to stand for a few moments, the air bubbles will rise to the surface and will usually clear from the bottom of the container up to the top. This phenomenon is called entrained air and does not affect the quality of your water.
Brown or yellow water from either tap on the FIRST DRAW:
The internal plumbing of your house might be the culprit if discolored water appears for only a minute or two after your tap is turned on. When the zinc coating on the inside of galvanized iron pipe begins to wear thin, water becomes discolored as it comes in contact with bare iron. The longer the water sits in the pipes, the worse the discoloration will be. That's why you are most likely to notice the problem first thing in the morning or when you have just returned from school or work. After running your tap for a few minutes, clean water from your water heater or water main will replace the discolored water. Since iron is an essential nutrient, this condition poses no health hazard. If the discoloration bothers you, however, flush the tap until the water becomes clear, saving the water for iron-loving plants.
Brown or yellow water from either tap, CONSTANTLY:
Sediments in water mains sometimes get stirred up when fire hydrants are used and when the flow of water in mains is increased. These sediments might cause your water to turn brown or yellow. Wait 30 to 40 minutes after you notice the discolored water, and try turning on the cold water in your bathtub for a minute or two. You'll probably notice that it clears right up, since sediments settle quickly back to the bottom of water mains. Discolored water due to sediments such as these poses no health threat, but for aesthetic reasons you should avoid doing laundry until the water clears up.
Brown or yellow water from hot tap only:
If the discoloration is detected only in your hot water supply, it is likely an indication of an issue with your hot water heater. It is recommended that you turn off your hot water heater and allow it to cool. Once cool, safely drain and flush your unit. Then fill and turn your unit on to determine if the problem persists. You should consult your owner's manual for instructions and warnings regarding this task or contact a licensed plumber.
The crystals or sediment left behind after water evaporates might be calcium carbonate. This is a naturally-occurring mineral, identical to the calcium found in your bones and in most calcium supplements. If these deposits appear green, blue or brown, they might have been colored by tiny amounts of the metals found in your water pipes. Carbonate deposits can be dissolved with white vinegar. Dishwasher deposits can be minimized by using a commercial conditioner, by using liquid detergents and by using the "air-dry" instead of the "power-dry" setting on your dishwasher, which bakes the carbonates onto glassware. Calcium carbonate poses no health hazard.
The cloudy water is caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to the gas bubbles in soda. After a while, the bubbles rise to the top and are gone, this cloudiness occurs more often in winter when the drinking water is cold and the home, along with its plumbing is heated.
This film can be a result of many factors, some internal to the home, such as a water softener or plumbing. Black slime is usually mold/mildew that thrive in moist areas like bathroom toilets and tiles where it is wet and warm. The film that develops on sink stoppers is non-harmful bacteria and residue buildup. Usually, the customer can remove the black film by cleaning the area with a commercial cleaner that contains a disinfecting agent, such as chlorine bleach. The film might also be related to the condition of the water coming in to the house. Hard water can leave deposits on toilets and dishwashers which are the mineral salts left behind as the water evaporates.
Different factors might be causing the rust stain. There might be a discolored water in an area due to fire hydrant use. Also, high iron levels in the water will leave rust stains behind as the water evaporates and the iron oxidizes, leaving the red iron tinge. People with galvanized steel service lines and/or internal plumbing might see rust stains and particles periodically in the water in their sinks and toilet bowls or on the aerator screens in faucets. This is the result of corrosion in the plumbing and not the water supplied.
If you smell rotten eggs or sewage in the water, it might be caused by gases forming in the household drain. These gases are formed by bacteria which live on food, soap, hair and other organic matter in the drain. These gases are heavier than air and remain in the drain until the water is turned on. As the water runs down the drain, the gases are expelled into the atmosphere around the sink. It is natural to associate these odors with the water because they are observed only when the water is turned on. In this case, the odor is not in the water, it is simply the water pushing the gas out of the drain. This can be verified by taking a glass of water from the tap and walking away to another area to smell the glass of water. If it still smells, please contact our water quality staff at 714-741-5395
If the drain is found to be the source of odors, you can disinfect the drain by following these six steps. Caution: do not mix any drain cleaners or detergents with bleach; certain combinations can create toxic fumes.
Run the cold water for about 15 seconds into the drain that is to be disinfected, then turn the water off.
Pour approximately one to two cups of liquid chlorine bleach (laundry bleach) down the drain (or drains) where the odor is present. Pour the bleach slowly around the edges of the drain so that it runs down the sides of the drain. Caution: bleach might cause eye damage, skin irritation, and might damage clothing - BE CAREFUL!
If the odor is coming from a sink with a garbage disposal, turn the disposal on for a few seconds while the bleach is being poured. This will disperse the bleach around the inside of the disposal. Caution: bleach might cause eye damage, skin irritation, and might damage clothing - take care to avoid splashing for the few seconds the disposal is turned on.
Allow the bleach to remain undisturbed in the drain for about 10 minutes. Caution: prolonged contact with metals might cause pitting and/or discoloration.
After 10 minutes, run the hot water into the drain for a minute or two to flush out the bleach. If a garbage disposal was disinfected, thoroughly flush it as well.
This procedure might need to be repeated if the odor returns.
If the odor is detected only in your hot water supply, it might be an indication that there is an issue with your hot water heater. A sulfurous or rotten egg-like odor in the hot water is caused by bacteria growing in the water heater. This usually happens when the water heater is turned off while on vacation, when the hot water has not been used for a long time or when the temperature setting on the heater is set too low. The bacteria in the water heater are not a health threat; however, they must be eliminated to stop the odor problem. You should consult your owner's manual or contact a licensed plumber.
Hardness is a term used to describe the high level of calcium and magnesium in the water. Excessive hardness can cause scale (white spots) to be deposited in boilers, pipelines, faucet aerators and shower heads. Hard water also requires the use of large amounts of laundry soap to achieve the desired results. The use of water softeners adds sodium to the water, which acts as a softening agent. Soft water is either water that is low in calcium or magnesium, or water that has been treated in a softener.
The spots that might appear on glassware after it is washed and air-dried are caused by harmless minerals (usually calcium) that remain on the glass when the water evaporates. Commercial products are available that allow the water to drain from the glassware more completely. Spots on glass shower doors appear for the same reason.
Customers who experience the white residue on glassware can periodically add a half cup of white vinegar to the beginning of the wash. The vinegar will provide enough acid to prevent hardness residue from remaining on glassware. Follow all manufacturers’ recommendations regarding your dishwasher use.
If a particular area has hard water, it is most likely a result of the mineral deposits which form when the water evaporates. There are commercial products available in stores which will remove this build-up. Soaking the shower head in a solution of white vinegar will also dissolve the deposits.
Fluoride in drinking water has been reported to decrease the incidence of tooth decay when water is consumed during the period of active tooth growth. Excessive quantities of fluoride in drinking water consumed by children may cause a discoloration of the teeth also known as mottling. EPA has established an upper allowable limit for fluoride in drinking water so that teeth mottling does not occur.
The CA State Water Resources Control Board has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 2 mg/l for fluoride in finished drinking water.
Yes. Fluoride is a minor constituent of the earth's crust. Generally speaking, the naturally occurring fluoride levels in the groundwater supplies in the City of Garden Grove range from non-detectable to approximately 0.4 mg/l.