MODULE III: Water Quality
There is a great disparity between the communities in WCV (Western Coachella Valley) and ECV (Eastern Coachella Valley) related to water availability. ECV is comprised of small and unincorporated communities that may lack municipal services. With the exception of Coachella city and sections of Mecca, many residents in the area rely on private wells for drinking, cooking, and bathing. This water may be contaminated with multiple elements and they are not being monitored for acceptable healthy limits. This lesson focuses on water quality, what the health concerns are and how to measure it. The goal is to build power so that you can advocate for improved Environmental Health and improve water quality.
Background: Water Quality describes a broad spectrum of how we can address the issues of water and how we overcome those concerns. The EPA defines water quality standards as the desired condition of a water body and the means by which that condition will be protected or achieved. We have these standards to help protect human health and aquatic life in these bodies of water.
There are three components of water quality standards and they are the following:
In 1974, The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress and it was to help regulate Public Water Systems. This act included a list of over 90 contaminants that should be eliminated or limited from our drinking water. Some of these contaminants can be, microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals and radionuclides. The EPA has also established secondary standards that apply to our drinking water regulations contaminants. These standards are known as The “Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels”, they are to help assist with the aesthetics such as taste, color and odor. These contaminants do not present a risk to human health.
The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. If you live in the U.S. your water is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The drinking water will vary, depending on the location and the condition of the water source and what treatment it receives but they all must meet The EPA Regulation Standards. Even though we have one of the safest water supplies, contamination still can occur. Some contamination sources can be: sewage releases, natural chemicals and minerals, local land use practices, manufacturing processes and malfunctioning on-site wastewater. If drinking water is not properly treated it can also create the environment for contamination and it can lead to future health issues.
Several counties in Southern California receive funding to help with upgrading their drinking water supply lines, treatment plans, wells and reservoirs. In 2006, Cathedral City received over $ 470,000 which was used to help eliminate septic tanks which will help improve water quality.