Lose the stockpile of bottles. Santa Ana’s tap water is safe to drink

Photo by Imani on Unsplash

The CDC might recommend keeping a supply of drinkable water in case of emergency, but people have been filling up their carts and stockpiling bottled water for the better part of a month. Don’t worry if you can’t find a case of Sparklettes or Aquafina, though — your Santa Ana tap water is still completely safe to drink.

About three-quarters of Santa Ana’s water directly from a groundwater supply while the remaining portion comes from the regional Metropolitan Water District. All of it is thoroughly sanitized before it gets piped into your home faucet.

“After the water comes from its source, we treat it with sodium hypochlorite, liquid chlorine,” said President of the Orange County Water District and Santa Ana City Councilmember Vincente Sarmiento. “From there, it’s stored in reservoirs for days or weeks and the sanitizing continues.”

Sarmiento also says that viruses like the coronavirus can’t survive in the water supply.

“Viruses are weaker than bacteria. We clean the water to kill the bacteria, so there’s no way viruses are going to survive,” he said.

Santa Ana has been continually recognized for its high-quality tap water over the years. Earlier this month, the City of Santa Ana Water Resources Division was named as one of the best-tasting and highest-quality municipal tap waters in the world, placing 4th in the “Best Municipal Water” category at the 30th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.

Previously, the city won gold medals in 2018 and 2014 as well as silver and bronze medals in 2012 and 2011 at the competition, which is considered the “Academy Awards of water.”

“Our water meets or exceeds very strict federal and state requirements, and California has some of the toughest regulations in the country,” Santa Ana’s Acting Director of Public Works Nabil Saba said.

In the event that the majority of water district employees fall ill with the virus, the supply of water would still remain uninterrupted. Thanks to California’s frequent, and sometimes devastating, earthquakes and wildfires, utilities are already set up for the possibility that part of the workforce may not be able to come in.

“It’s very heavily mechanized,” Saba said. “We’re already adhering to social distancing guidelines, and have reduced the number of employees on site, but even if people get sick, the water supply won’t be affected.”

For those concerned their water may be shut off because they can’t pay the bill, the Santa Ana City Council voted on Mar. 17 to suspend all shut-offs and late fees that would otherwise happen during this difficult time. 

If you have a necessity for more purified water but are unable to find it in stores, such as parents of very young children, Sarmiento recommends either a water filter for your tap, such as a Brita, or simply boiling tap water before use.

“Even without boiling, the water supply is still completely safe to use and drink,” he said.

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