The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a new database that indicates Cal Water exceeds “health guidelines” in our customers’ service areas. We want to clarify the information in this database. Our water meets all of the standards set to protect customers’ health and safety by federal and state public health experts. These standards are called “maximum contaminant levels (MCLs).”
The data provided by EWG is based on public health goals (PHG), not MCLs. PHGs are not regulatory standards, but rather the level of a constituent below which there is no known concern to health over a lifetime of exposure. These goals are set without regard to cost or available detection and treatment technologies. In some cases, the technology may not even exist to treat water to the PHG.
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which is composed of toxicologists, epidemiologists, physicians, biostatisticians, and research scientists, confirms that: “As long as drinking water complies with all MCLs, it is considered safe to drink, even if some contaminants exceed PHG levels,” and “A PHG is NOT a boundary line between a ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ level of a contaminant.”
Additionally, the data in the EWG database includes raw, untreated source water, not just water that has been treated and is being delivered to customers. It also double-counts certain constituents.
Protecting our customers’ health and safety is our highest priority. We encourage our customers to review the annual Consumer Confidence Report for their water system, which includes every constituent detected in the water delivered to them.