What is the Water Quality in Oakland, California?
Compared to other US cities, Oakland water quality ranks in the lower range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 14 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are at extremely high levels: 415x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) are at extremely high levels: 603x health guidelines.
- These are both byproducts of the chlorine treatment process most water supplies go through.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Oakland water.
What’s in Oakland water?
Here are the top 2 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5 and HAA9) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are two of the 14 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
These 2 contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Oakland have Lead contamination?
No, Oakland has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected from 2017 through 2019 showed concentrations of 0.0 parts per billion (ppb).
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
- Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
- The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be removed.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does Oakland’s water come from?
Oakland’s water comes from the Cerrito Creek – Frontal San Francisco Bay Estuaries watershed.
8 of the 9 EPA assessed water sources in the Cerrito Creek – Frontal San Francisco Bay Estuaries watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Baxter Creek
- Cerrito Creek
- Codornices Creek
- Stege Marsh
- Strawberry Creek
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition. Lake Temescal is in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Oakland’s water.
What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Oakland can be surprising.
But there are things you can do in your home to clean up your water.
To Remove Lead and Other Contaminants In Your Home:
There is one solution that beats Brita, PUR, and expensive whole house systems.
- It costs less per gallon.
- Needs fewer filter changes.
- And it doesn’t make your water taste weird.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out at least 70% of contaminants in your drinking water. (Berkey Light and Travel Berkey are the only types available in California.)
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of any Lead in Oakland water.
- Brita can filter 4 contaminants (28.6%) and Lead depending on the filter.
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 11 of the 14 contaminants (78.6%), consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.oaklandca.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.