Hundreds of drinking water systems in California failing to meet standards

Posted 53 days ago


Several hundred drinking water systems around California fail to deliver safe and affordable water, affecting nearly 750,000 residents, according to a new report from the State Water Resources Control Board.

The annual Drinking Water Needs Assessment analyzed 3,066 water systems that together serve roughly 15 million people and found that 346 failed to meet one or more criteria for delivering clean, accessible and affordable water in 2021.

"Most people in the state are served clean, safe drinking water," said Andrew Altevogt, assistant deputy director for the state Division of Drinking Water. "What this report is looking at are the folks and communities that aren't being served safe water."

"The population is maybe on the order of about 1 million people that fall across all these categories analyzed in the report, but there are a lot of small water systems that are either failing to meet drinking water standards or that are at risk of failing to meet those standards," Altevogt said.

The report also found that 508 systems serving more than 1.2 million people are at risk of failing and 453 systems that deliver water to roughly 1.1 million people are potentially at risk.

In the nine-county Bay Area, 30 drinking water systems serving roughly 16,200 people are listed as "failing" on the Water Board's online dashboard, which also identifies 75 systems -- collectively serving more than 133,000 people in the region -- as at risk or potentially at risk of failure.

The largest of the Bay Area water systems listed as failing is the one operated by the city of St. Helena, which serves 6,152 people, according to the dashboard.

The listing is due to a handful of violations for disinfection byproducts -- haloacetic acids (HAA5) -- going back to 2020.

City officials said they have yet to fully review the report but will take it into consideration as they proceed with water system maintenance and improvement projects.

"The City of St. Helena, like many cities across California and the United States, is contending with aging infrastructure, including water systems," said Mayor Geoff Ellsworth.

Ellsworth said the city is has an engineering-based water and wastewater rate analysis in the works, as well as a ... (Read more)