Can You Drink Tap Water in LA? The Truth Revealed

Los Angeles, the city of dreams, attracts thousands of visitors every year. However, one question that haunts visitors and residents alike is whether tap water in LA is safe to drink. In this article, we will reveal the truth about drinking tap water in LA.

History of Tap Water in LA

Like most American cities, Los Angeles gets its water supply from various sources such as rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Initially, the city relied on the Los Angeles River for its water supply. However, as the city grew, it became insufficient, and other sources were explored.

In the early 1900s, Los Angeles began importing water from the Owens Valley, located more than 200 miles away. It was an ambitious project, undertaken on a massive scale. By the 1920s, the city was getting almost all its water supply from Owens Valley.

Around the same time, the San Fernando Valley aquifer was discovered, providing groundwater to the city. In the 1930s, the Colorado River was also tapped as a water source. Today, these sources and others provide water to the city.

What’s in LA Tap Water?

Los Angeles tap water comes from various sources, including reservoirs and groundwater wells. It also contains various naturally occurring compounds such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium. However, it may also contain harmful chemicals and pollutants.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water quality in the United States. The EPA establishes guidelines for the maximum allowable levels of contaminants in public water systems. In LA, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is responsible for providing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water to the residents of Los Angeles. They regularly test water quality to ensure it meets the EPA’s standards and publish the results on their website.

Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant added to tap water to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. While it is generally safe to drink, it may cause an unpleasant taste and smell. The LADWP recommends letting tap water sit in an open container to dissipate the chlorine odor and taste.

Lead

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that can enter the water supply through old lead pipes or solder used to join pipes. Long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, particularly in children. The LADWP tests tap water for lead and works to replace old lead pipes and fixtures.

Chromium 6

Chromium 6, also known as hexavalent chromium, is an industrial chemical and a potent carcinogen. It is found in the groundwater in some parts of LA. The LADWP tests tap water for Chromium 6 and meets the EPA’s standards for its maximum allowable level.

Is LA Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Yes, LA tap water is generally safe to drink. The LADWP follows strict guidelines to ensure that the water meets the EPA’s standards for maximum allowable levels of contaminants. The water is treated to remove harmful bacteria, viruses, and pollutants.

However, like any other public water system, there may be occasional issues such as temporary increases in lead levels due to the replacement of old lead pipes. The LADWP advises residents to run the tap for a few minutes in the morning before using the water to flush out any stagnant water.

Factors Affecting the Taste of Tap Water

While LA tap water is generally safe to drink, taste and odor may vary depending on factors such as the source of the water and how it is treated. Listed below are some of the factors that may affect the taste of LA tap water.

Chlorine

As mentioned earlier, chlorine is added to the tap water to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. However, it may also give the water an unpleasant taste and smell. Letting the water sit in an open container for a few minutes before drinking can help eliminate the chlorine taste and odor.

pH Level

The pH level of water determines its acidity or alkalinity. While tap water’s pH level is typically within the safe range for drinking, it may affect the taste. Water with a low pH level can taste acidic or sour, while water with a high pH level may taste metallic or bitter.

Hard Water

Hard water contains high levels of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While it is not harmful to health, it can cause an unpleasant taste and leave a residue on surfaces such as shower doors and faucets.

Alternatives to Tap Water in LA

If you are concerned about the taste or safety of LA tap water, you may consider using alternative sources of water. Listed below are some of the alternatives to tap water in LA.

Bottled Water

Bottled water is a convenient and readily available alternative to tap water. However, it can be expensive and has a negative impact on the environment due to the production and disposal of plastic bottles. It is also worth noting that bottled water may not be safer or of better quality than tap water.

Filtered Water

Filtering tap water can remove impurities and improve taste. There are various filtration methods, including pitcher filters, faucet filters, and reverse osmosis systems. However, it is essential to choose a filter that can remove specific contaminants, such as lead or chromium, if they are a concern.

The Bottom Line

LA tap water is generally safe to drink, but taste and odor may vary. Taking simple steps such as letting the water sit in an open container or using a filter can improve the taste and quality of drinking water. The LADWP regularly tests the water supply to ensure that it meets the EPA’s standards for maximum allowable levels of contaminants.

Common Questions about Drinking Tap Water in LA

  • Q: Is LA tap water safe to drink?
    • A: Yes, LA tap water is generally safe to drink. The LADWP follows strict guidelines to ensure that the water meets the EPA’s standards for maximum allowable levels of contaminants.
  • Q: Why does LA tap water taste bad?
    • A: The taste of tap water may vary depending on factors such as the source of the water and how it is treated. Chlorine, pH level, and hard water are some of the factors that may affect the taste of LA tap water.
  • Q: What are the alternatives to tap water in LA?
    • A: Bottled water and filtered water are some of the alternatives to tap water in LA. However, it is important to note that bottled water can be expensive and have a negative impact on the environment, while filtering tap water can remove impurities and improve taste.
  • Q: Can I use tap water for cooking and cleaning?
    • A: Yes, LA tap water is safe to use for cooking and cleaning. The LADWP follows strict guidelines to ensure that the water meets the EPA’s standards for maximum allowable levels of contaminants.

References:

  • https://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/faces/wcnav_externalId/a-water-quality?_adf.ctrl-state=6c5d5zvwr_4&_afrLoop=1509876971733341
  • https://www.epa.gov/home/learn-about-water
  • https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/drinking-water-regulations

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