Public Outreach Regarding Copper in Customer Tap Water
Montecito Water District is providing this update to customers regarding water quality and copper testing.
These are the top 3 things for customers to know:
1. Water supplied to customer meters meets all standards.
2. Lead and copper testing at taps on sample properties routinely provides results which are reported privately and directly to the customer.
3. Customers: Please contact the District at 805.969.2271 with any questions about water quality or service.
Additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, can be found below:
Water quality is a top priority for the Montecito Water District. Water delivered to our customers meets all State and Federal drinking water standards, including those for copper. The District’s latest Consumer Confidence Reports, demonstrating full compliance with these standards, can be found on the District’s website at: montecitowater.com/doc/ccr2019
Why is MWD testing for lead and copper?
Montecito Water District conducts scheduled monitoring of lead and copper in the tap water at a select number of residences within our service area, as required by law of all drinking water systems. The specifics of the lead and copper monitoring are outlined in the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1991 and implemented by the State of California Water Quality Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water. The LCR requires public water systems to monitor concentrations of lead and copper in tap water collected from the inside of a select number of customer’s residences because lead and copper can be released from home plumbing material such as copper pipes, old solder containing lead, as well as brass fixtures which contain copper and low levels of lead. The LCR prioritizes monitoring and testing of single-family residences with plumbing material installed before 1986, when lead-containing solder was banned in the US. The District solicits participation from customers, but the participation is purely voluntary. If more than 10% of the samples collected contain lead above the federal action limit of 0.015 parts per million (ppm) or copper above the federal action limit of 1.3 ppm, the water system must take corrective action to help reduce the release of copper and lead into the tap water.
What have the lead and copper levels been so far?
Since Montecito Water District began sampling homes in 1993, the District has completed 11 rounds of monitoring during which 311 samples have been collected from residential taps. The District results have always met the regulatory requirements set by the LCR. In fact, no sample collected since 1993 under the LCR monitoring program has exceeded the lead limit of 0.015 ppm, and only four samples out of the 311 collected contained copper above the limit of 1.3 ppm.
What happens when a sample exceeds the limit?
When this occurs, customers are notified immediately and the District will work with the customer to evaluate and understand the cause.
What are the recent lead and copper testing results?
The latest round of testing conducted in August 2020, revealed an elevated copper reading at one property out of 37 participating properties. This test result was slightly above the federal action level of 1.3 ppm. The District is working with the property owner to help identify the cause of the elevated copper levels in that sample.
In response to the recent elevated copper reading, what additional actions, if any, are being taken by the Montecito Water District?
The District has expanded copper testing both in the vicinity of the property that experienced an elevated copper reading, as well as locations throughout Montecito, Summerland, and Toro Canyon. Since then, more than 75 additional copper tests have been performed to date.
Has the District found other properties with an elevated level of copper in their tap water?
Of the more than 75 additional copper tests performed to date, 10 tested above the copper limit. These homes have since been resampled. Out of the ten, eight tested below the copper limit and 2 are under investigation.
Could there be copper in my water and what is the source?
Yes, you could have low levels of copper in your tap water and it can come from multiple sources. Copper is a naturally occurring mineral commonly found in low concentrations in fresh water supplies. The District’s two primary sources of water are Jameson Lake and Lake Cachuma. Recent test results for Jameson Lake and Lake Cachuma had non-detectable copper levels. Copper can also enter the water from the corrosion of the infrastructure used to deliver water to your tap. The District’s water distribution system, which is used to deliver water to your meter, is constructed primarily of non-copper materials. Of the District’s vast network of pipes, valves, pumps and associated appurtenances, infrastructure constructed of copper materials is limited to fire hydrants and customer water service lines. Their location in the distribution system is such that corrosion of these facilities will have minimal to no impact on the level of copper measured in your tap water. Copper testing was performed on water samples obtained directly from the distribution system at 20 locations, all of which tested under 0.08 ppm or 6% of the regulatory action limit, confirming a lack of impact from District facilities. The most common source of copper found at customer taps comes from household plumbing.
Why would copper leach from my household plumbing into my tap water?
Any time a metal, including copper is exposed to water, some of the metal will dissolve into the water at a slow rate. The longer the water sits in a copper pipe, the more the copper will accumulate in the water. The speed at which the copper will dissolve into the water depends on a number of factors including the quality of the water, water temperature, quality of the plumbing material, and other external known and unknown factors. The greatest level of copper at your tap is expected to occur in the first flush of water after sitting in the pipes overnight. If the water stagnated in the pipes over a weekend when no one was at home, the copper level in the first flush of water is likely to be even higher. Moreover, because metals dissolve more rapidly in hot water than in cold water, the copper levels in hot water pipes are likely to be higher than in cold water pipes.
What can I do if I’m concerned about copper in my water?
If you are concerned about the accumulation of copper in your water pipes, the District recommends that you run the water at your kitchen tap in the morning before you use the water for drinking or cooking. The District also recommends that only cold water be used for drinking or cooking because copper levels are expected to be higher in hot water pipes than in cold water pipes. Additionally, certain commercially available filters have shown to be successful at removing metals including copper from water.
If you have concerns about the presence of copper in your drinking water supply, have your water tested.
To schedule a test, please contact Chad Hurshman, the District’s Water Treatment Superintendent, at 805-689-6408. Results are typically available within one to two weeks of testing.
Has my water quality changed recently?
No. The quality of the water supplied to you by the District is highly consistent. Hundreds of water quality tests are performed on your water per year, with many completed on a daily basis. Be reassured that your water quality has not changed and continues to exceed all State and Federal drinking water standards.
Is this situation unique to Montecito Water District?
No. The answers presented above apply to all water systems.
Where can I get more information?
If you have any question, we encourage you to contact Chad Hurshman, the District’s Water Treatment Superintendent, at 805-689-6408, and he will do his best to provide you with the information you need. Additional information can be obtained at the links below:
Montecito Water District's mission is to provide an adequate and reliable supply of high quality water to the residents of Montecito and Summerland, at the most reasonable cost. In carrying out this mission, the District places particular emphasis on providing outstanding customer service, conducting its operations in an environmentally sensitive manner, and working cooperatively with other agencies. For additional information visit montecitowater.com, like Montecito Water District on Facebook, and follow on twitter @MontecitoWater.