A handful of locals gathered in Doyle Elementary School’s cafeteria Friday evening to discuss and learn about the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) that is distributed every July.
The CCR is a breakdown of any harmful materials that may been in the water Porterville residents are drinking.
Members from the Community Water Center (CWC) based in Visalia were taking questions and breaking down the report for the people in attendance.
Erasto Teran, CWC’s water education and outreach specialist, opened up the meeting by welcoming the audience and introducing himself.
“Thank you for coming and taking your time today,” began Teran. “The purpose of this meeting is to let people know about the CCR report, because it is important to the people of East Porterville and all of Porterville.”
Ryan Jensen, CWC’s community water solutions manager, explained a majority of the report.
“As customers of any public water system in the state of California you have certain rights,” Jensen stated, “including the right to know what’s in your water and if it’s safe to drink.”
The city is required to provide a report or make one available to any person who is paying for city water. This includes any household that just recently was annexed in and is now receiving water.
“This is a very complicated looking report and that is one of the issues especially for people in East Porterville,” said Jensen. “This is probably the first time that they have ever seen one of these because they just got connected to the water system for the first time.”
Jensen also explained that if ten percent or more of the population speaks a different language, the city is required by law to make the report available in that language or have a person on staff who can explain the report.
Currently, the City of Porterville prints the report in English only but provides a telephone number that Spanish speakers can call to have the CCR translated and explained.
“If residents here in Porterville believe that the report should be made available in Spanish, they would have to go and request it at a City Council meeting,” said Jensen. “We [CWC] think they should make it available in Spanish and we have told them that.”
Porterville has over 30 wells that must be tested every year for contaminants or possible bacteria or viruses in the drinking water. Nitrates are what affect Porterville’s water systems the most. Water can become contaminated by nitrates due to runoff from agricultural fields and erosion from natural deposits.
“Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants in Central Valley water,” stated Jensen. “Most of the nitrate in the drinking water here in the Central Valley comes from agricultural activity.”
Nitrate, fluoride, barium and arsenic were only a few of the contaminants tested for in Porterville’s water wells. The wells also get randomly sampled 19 times a week to test for lead, copper and harmful bacteria.
The last test conducted to the drinking water is secondary standards.
“These are things that are not likely to be terribly harmful to human health,” reported Jensen, “But they may make for really gross tasting or off-colored water.”
These tests look for elements such as chloride, sodium and sulfate in the water.
If too much of these elements exist, the water may be affected more so than the consumer.
If any of the wells test as unsafe to drink, it is mandatory that the city inform the residents. Currently, Porterville’s water passes all the standards and is safe to drink.
“What is important to know is that for the city of Porterville all of the detections are below the maximum level of contaminant levels,” finished up Jensen. “This means that for all the contaminants that they tested for and reported, they do meet the drinking water standards.”
Erica Fernandez, the last speaker for the night and CWC’s director of organizing, stood in the front of the room and spoke about two senate bills, SB 844 and SB 845,which will be voted on within the next two weeks.
“These bills would give over 300 communities in the state of California access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water,” said Fernandez. “This is the first time the farmers, Environmental Justice Organization, businesses and some legislators are coming together to find a long term solution for the water crisis.”
CWC will try to hold a meeting in September during the third week of the month with updates in regards to the senate bills.