Local Drinking Water Named Among the Worst in Nation

However, water agency officials say the report is "grossly inaccurate."

Editor's note:  This story has been updated to provide feedback from the Eastern Municipal Water District.

You may have noticed a report circulating social media and the web, naming our local water agency among the worst in the nation.

According to a new report by Daily Finance, a recent analysis of water supplies in major U.S. cities found that "a surprising number" of them have water with "unhealthy levels of chemicals and contaminants."

"The website 24/7 Wall St. examined the quality of water supplies in most major America cities, using data collected from multiple sources for five years (ending in 2009) by Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C.," the report states.  "The fact that the data covered a half-decade is important because it shows that the presence of certain chemicals is persistent."

Based on EWG's methodology, 24/7 Wall Street came up with a list of the ten cites in America with the "worst" drinking water, based on: 
  • The percentage of chemicals found based on the number that were tested for
  • The total number of contaminants found
  • The most dangerous average level of a single pollutant
Three of the ten "cities" (though the report does name water districts, which may serve more than a city) are in Southern California.  

Coming in at Number 4 on the list?  Riverside County's Eastern Municipal Water District.

Here's what the report has to say:

Riverside county is a 7,200-square-mile area located north of San Diego, part of California's "Inland Empire." The county is primarily located in desert territory, and so the water utilities draw their supply from the Bay Delta, which is miles to the north.

The water in Riverside County contained 13 chemicals that exceeded recommended health guidelines over the four tested years, and one that exceeded legal limits.

In total, 22 chemicals were detected in the district's water supply. The contaminant exceeding legal health standards was tetrachloroethylene.

According to the Eastern Municipal Water District's website, the agency provides drinking water to retail customers in the cities of Moreno Valley, Menifee, Murrieta, and Temecula and the unincorporated communities of Good Hope, Homeland, Lakeview, Nuevo, Mead Valley, Murrieta Hot Springs, Quail Valley, Romoland, Valle Vista and Winchester.

"The District also supplies water on a wholesale basis to the Cities of Hemet, San Jacinto and Perris, Lake Hemet Municipal Water District, Nuevo Water Company, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District and Rancho California Water District," the website states.

"Erroneous Report"

Though the report may seem shocking, Eastern Municipal Water District officials tell Patch not to believe everything you read.  In fact, they claim the entire thing is based off of pre-treated water-- not what comes into your kitchen sink.

"In short, the EWG used our untreated drinking water test results (and did the same with Riverside Public Utilities) and compared it to the treated drinking water for other agencies," Spokesman Kevin Pearson told Patch in an email.  "The EWG later admitted this, and said they knowingly used the incorrect data, but declined to issue a retraction. Eventually, they stopped responding to our legal demands for a retraction."

Pearson says the water is treated thousands of times over, and does not contain the chemicals stated in the report.

"At EMWD, we are proud of the 45,000 water quality tests we perform each year and we have, for decades, met and exceeded all the state and federal drinking water standards," Pearson said.  

What's more, the spokesman says, the report first surfaced a couple years ago.

"Our water is of high quality and we take great pride in ensuring that our customers can be confident with our product,"  he added.  "This report by the EWG blatantly undermines that public trust we have worked so hard to build."

Two other SoCal areas were named in the report, including San Diego (San Diego Water Department) and Riverside (City of Riverside Public Utilities).

The report named Pensacola, Florida's Emerald Coast Water Utility the worst.

Michael Keegan February 15, 2014 at 09:09 AM
In that case, you may be interested to learn a bit more about your water. Here's a link to the Purdex Score detail for EMWD. You'll also notice a tab called Filter Finder which recommends water filters that are most suitable for EMWDs particular water contaminant profile. I hope it helps as there's nothing worse than foul tasting water! http://purdex.com/System_Score.aspx?PWSID=ByPh9MabuuJs5c%200aRGoXw==
TVSteve February 15, 2014 at 03:08 PM
Alek Hidell was Lee Harvey Oswalds alias. Makes perfect sense now. Either way, the water does suck out here and you'd think in today's world they'd get it better. But that would just bring more "Okies" as Lee Harvey would say.
Megan Locke February 16, 2014 at 01:25 AM
If any homeowner is interested in a FREE water test please email Ben Meredith at watertestingguy@gmail.com to set up your appointment. See how truly bad your home and drinking water is (yes even bottled water has chemicals and chlorine in it) and Learn how you too can have CLEAN water running through your home!
Allen G February 16, 2014 at 03:08 AM
this is bad news bears. consider this... our bodies are 70% water.
aristotle March 13, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Patch is the accomplice to the admittedly erroneous report of "bad water" in that the headline reads: "Local Drinking Water Named ... Worst in Nation". It should have read: Environmental Advocacy Group Issues Erroneous Report on Water Quality". Patch does a disservice to the water consumers of Riverside County when it doesn't accept the "legally-required" test results of our water quality which is as good as and maybe better than bottled water. I have the EWG (Environmental Working Group) IRS filing available for Patch if they are interested.


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