Water quality is our top concern at the City of Orange Water Division. As part of this commitment, we regularly monitor state and federal regulations to ensure we are providing high-quality water to our customers.
On May 19, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has lowered health advisory guidelines for two unregulated contaminants — perfluorooctane sulfonate, known as PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.
According to the EPA, these are “organic chemicals that have been used in a variety of commercial and consumer products, such as stain and water repellants for carpets and upholstered furnishings, paper products, fire-fighting foams and non-stick cookware.”
PFOS and PFOA have been detected in water throughout the U.S., including in California and Orange County. The EPA announcement and related materials can be found HERE.
In nearly all of Orange's water, the detected levels of PFOS and PFOA are either non-existent, or well below the revised health advisories. Orange has two wells out of 16 that slightly exceed the EPA’s advisory threshold. These wells have been taken offline out of an abundance of caution.
Going forward, our Water Division will:
Continue testing our water to determine if contaminants are present.
Provide test results in our Water Division's annual Water Quality Report.
Work with regulators and groundwater management agencies to determine and address possible sources of contamination.
What are PFOS and PFOA?
PFOS and PFOA are organic chemicals that have been used in a variety of commercial and consumer products, such as fire-fighting foams, non-stick cookware, stain and water repellants for carpets and upholstered furnishings and paper products. More information is available on EPA’s website.
Why did water agencies test for PFOS and PFOA?
Water agencies tested for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water as part of the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3, a rule developed by U.S. EPA that evaluates the presence of several currently unregulated contaminants to determine their presence in the environment and help evaluate whether these contaminants need further regulations.
What are the Health Impacts of PFOS and PFOA?
According to the EPA, “Both compounds are persistent in the environment and are known to have adverse effects in laboratory animals. Recent epidemiology data suggest the possibility for some adverse effects on human health.” Potential pathways include ingestion of food and water, use of commercial products or inhalation from long-range air transport particulate matter.
What are EPA Health Advisories?
The EPA provides health advisories as guidance for determining if concentrations of unregulated chemicals in drinking water are safe for public consumption. They provide state, local and tribal governments with non-regulatory tools to make decisions on a local basis in cases where a chemical is not regulated. Health advisories are not enforceable drinking water standards.
In 2009, the EPA had established provisional health advisories of 200 parts per trillion for PFOS and 400 parts per trillion for PFOA.
On May 19, 2016 EPA established a lifetime health advisory for the combination of both PFOS and PFOA at 70 parts per trillion. According to the EPA, the new health advisory is protective of the most the sensitive individuals, including infants and pregnant mothers, and provides a margin of protection.
How are drinking water contaminants enforced by the EPA and the State of California?
The EPA and the state of California have established procedures for developing drinking water standards, also known as Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs. An MCL is the highest level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water and is considered safe for long-term consumption. When a new unregulated contaminant is found, the state and federal agencies determine if it warrants regulation. They may conduct studies on toxicology, occurrence, treatment, environmental fate and transport and other factors. After a thorough analysis of the facts, an MCL may be proposed and enacted. Once an MCL is established, all community water systems must meet the standard or face violations, fines and penalties.
What technologies will remove PFOS and PFOA?
Treatment technologies to remove PFOS and PFOA from water include activated carbon filters, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis.
Have PFOS and PFOA been detected in the region?
PFOS and/or PFOA have been detected in 26 water systems in California, including six in Orange County. Two of Orange’s 16 wells had detections above the new health advisory level, and both have been taken out of service out of an abundance of caution.
Due to the long-term drought facing California and in response to the State of Emergency declared by Governor Brown, the Orange City Council adopted Ordinance 05-14 at their October 14, 2014 meeting.
Ordinance 05-14, the City of Orange Water Conservation and Water Supply Shortage Program, is meant to help conserve the available water supply and provide a contingency plan in times of drought or other water emergencies. The new conservation requirements include:
Watering or irrigation of landscaping is prohibited between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Watering or irrigation of landscaping is limited to no more than 10 minutes of watering per station on days allowed.
Watering or irrigation of landscaping with potable water is limited to 2 days per week (Tuesday and Friday) during the months of April through October.
Watering landscape areas during and within 48 hours of measurable rainfall is prohibited.
During the months of November through March, watering landscape area with potable water is limited to no more than one day per week (Tuesday).
Washing down hard or paved surfaces such as driveways, streets, sidewalks, etc. is prohibited.
Watering or irrigation of landscaping in a manner that causes or allows excessive runoff onto driveways, streets, sidewalks, etc. is prohibited.
Using water to wash a vehicle is prohibited except by hand-held bucket or hand-held hose equipped with positive self-closing water shut-off nozzle.
Currently, the City of Orange is partnered with Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), offering many different indoor and outdoor rebates and incentives as well as free of charge water saving programs to all of our customers.
In addition, the website also provides useful information about other water conservation topics such as OC Storm Water Program, Garden Friendly Program, California Friendly Landscape Resources, Water Saving Tips, H2Os for HOAs, etc.
If you have further questions about Water Conservation in the City of Orange, please contact the Public Works Water Division at (714) 288-2475 or email the Water Division - Water Conservation.
The Water Division is responsible for providing clean, safe water to the City of Orange and for designing and constructing the system that supplies the residents and businesses with water.
For information regarding utility billing, including new water service, please call (714) 744-2233.
For after-hours emergencies, please call (714) 538-1961.
For general information, please call (714) 288-2475.
For current fee schedule and water rates, click here.
The Municipal Water District of Orange County and 19 other participating water and wastewater utilities are updating the Orange County Regional Water and Wastewater Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, which was approved in February of 2007. (click here)
On November 12, 2007 drinking water supplied by the Metropolitan Water District to the City of Orange will be fluoridated to a level of 0.8 ppm (parts per million). Combined fluoride levels in the City's drinking water will range from 0.0 to 0.8 ppm. For more information on fluoride, see http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/fluoride.cfm Well Permit
The Orange County Water District is undertaking a project that will increase the County's groundwater supply. The Groundwater Replenishment System will provide enough water to meet the needs of approximately 140,000 families each year and will reduce the County's dependence on imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River. To learn more; click on the Water Consumer Confidence Report. Further information can be obtained through the following links: