By Julie Watts

There’s been a lot of talk about drinking water over the past month. First, there was green tap water in Roseville that turned out to be safe, then a scathing grand jury report found a Sacramento water district didn’t notify residents of contaminated drinking water.

Most of us don’t give our tap water a second thought until we see headlines like these. They now have some wondering — how do you really know what’s in your drinking water?

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A Sacramento County grand jury recently accused the Del Paso Manor Water District of “flagrant misconduct” and failing to provide safe drinking water.

The issues ranged from aging infrastructure to a lack of transparency and contaminated water that wasn’t disclosed to the public.

Your water district is supposed to send you an annual Consumer Confidence Report, or CCR, listing the levels of all contaminants found in your water compared to the public health limits.

But  Del Paso Manor acknowledged, for years, they failed to properly test a well that they knew was contaminated with a “highly toxic chemical” linked to cancer, Tetrachloroethylene, or PCE.

When they finally tested for the chemical in 2019, they found the levels of PCE were more than 2.5 times the maximum level allowed by law. But they didn’t report it to customers in the Arden Arcade area until a year later –  four years after the chemical was first found in the water.

CBS13 exposed a similar issue in the city of Ripon after several children were diagnosed with cancer at one school there. First, we revealed Ripon failed to test for a chemical linked to PCE in a contaminated well. And when they finally did test, they left the chemical off the mandatory water report.

We later discovered low levels of the chemical were also found in school drinking water but parents weren’t notified until our reports.

So, how can you find out what’s really in your water if you can’t trust your water district to tell you?

There are a variety of commercial water testing kits, and companies like Tap Score, that will test your water for you. But testing can get pricey if you don’t know which toxins to test for.

Enter the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database. The advocacy group has compiled a list of known contaminants that have been found in the water in most major water districts. Simply enter your zip code and click on your water company for a list of chemicals of concern, information on each chemical, and the best method to filter each contaminant.

If you’d like to go a step farther, you can test your water for the contaminants of concern that are listed by the EWG.

It’s important to note that many of the contaminants are legal, but health advocates warn that doesn’t mean that they’re safe.

Both the Del Paso Water District and the City of Ripon say they’ve since taken the contaminated wells offline.

Julie Watts