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Elevating Nitrate Levels, Spiraling Water Quality


Carried by rain or irrigation water, nitrate is a common contaminant found in groundwater. Shallow wells, wells located in sandy soil, or ones that lack proper construction or maintenance are left more susceptible to contamination.  Nitrate found in groundwater commonly derives from fertilizers, livestock waste, and human waste associated with septic and municipal wastewater systems.  This contaminant has a federal legal limit of 10 mg/L, which was established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The limit was based on a 1962 U.S. Public Health Service recommendation designed to warn against infants ingesting excessive amounts of nitrate. 

California’s Central Valley supplies the country with enormous amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts and dairy.  As a result, it is no surprise that the area is vulnerable to nitrate contamination.  While California produces more milk than any other state in the country, the cows also produce significant amounts of waste.  Farmers often recycle the waste by spreading it on fields, hoping it will accelerate the growth of crops.  Unfortunately, the excess nitrate that the crops are unable to absorb runs off into surface water, where it can cause algae to grow, or it trickles down into aquifers.  In a study conducted by the University of California, Davis, researchers discovered that 55 percent of nitrate pollution in the valley comes from synthetic fertilizers, while 33 percent is derived from animal manure.  

One might be led to believe that nitrate contamination may be an issue typically encountered only in small, rural towns.  It has been discovered, however, that cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas are also seeing elevated levels of nitrate in their water sources.  A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that an estimated 60 million people throughout the United States are consuming water tainted with at least 3 mg/L of nitrate — the EWG’s recommended limit, which is, as noted above, lower than that established by the EPA of 10mg/L.  Despite the higher legal limit, recent studies have shown that even consuming water with 5 mg/L of nitrate can lead to increased risk of cancer and birth defects.  Upon conducting tests from various water systems across the country, the EWG discovered that 11 states had at least one large or very large water delivery system that tested at or above 10 mg/L.   A large system typically serves 10,001 to 100,000 people while a very large system serves more than 100,000 people.  In fact, of the 10 systems with the highest levels of nitrate, eight of them are found in California.  As a whole, elevated nitrate has been found in 168 large and 55 very large systems throughout the state.  Furthermore, 41 of these systems exceed the EPA’s legal limit of 10 mg/L.  It is estimated that 22.7 million Californian residents out of 39.5 million of them have been exposed to elevated levels of nitrate.  

Despite California’s law requiring that water supplied for domestic use must be pure, wholesome, and potable at all times, the Environmental Integrity Project discovered that the state has the fifth most polluted rivers and streams.  In fact, the Organization stated that almost half of the rivers and streams across the country are too polluted for fishing, drinking, or swimming.  With more than 37,000 miles of tainted waterways, California has some of the country’s most polluted drinking water due to agricultural runoff and droughts. 

Knowing that our state’s water quality has been on a downward spiral, it is time you take matters into your own hands.  Our Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station, along with its unique VOC auxiliary filter and lead-free faucet will ensure that you and your family can enjoy up to 40 gallons of the best tasting, highest-quality water daily.  With the addition of the Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) filter, the Kinetico k5 Drinking Water Station is certified to remove 99.999% of contaminants, more than any other residential systems on the market, giving you freedom from worrying about contaminants such as atrazine, forever chemicals, or chromium.  Additionally, this seven-stage filtration system also comes with a comprehensive 10-year Kinetico parts warranty.  To learn more about our distinctive reverse osmosis system, sign up for a FREE onsite water consultation NOW! 

Sources 

Adrienne Moore, “Report finds California has fifth-most polluted water in U.S.” CBS Sacremento, 2022, https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2022/03/30/ca-water-pollution-report/

Anne Scheschinger, “Nitrate contaminates drinking water for almost 60 million people in cities across the country,” Environmental Working Group, 2021, https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/nitrate-contaminates-drinking-water.php

Erica Gies, “Why California’s nitrate problem will take decades to fix,” The New Humanitarian, 2017, https://deeply.thenewhumanitarian.org/water/articles/2017/08/31/why-californias-nitrate-problem-will-take-decades-to-fix

California Water Boards, “Nitrate/Nitrite in drinking water,” 2013, https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/rwqcb3/water_issues/programs/gap/docs/salinas_pajro_valley_proj_2012-2013/gap_nitrate_fact_sheet_121613.pdf

University of California – Berkeley, “Safe drinking water remains out of reach for many Californians,” Science News, 2022, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220111153647.htm