Palo Alto, California
What is the Water Quality in Palo Alto, California?
Compared to other US cities, Palo Alto water quality ranks in the lower-middle range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 18 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Chloroform is at extremely high levels: 83x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are at extremely high levels: 345x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) are at extremely high levels: 529x health guidelines.
- These are both byproducts of the chlorine treatment process most water supplies go through.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Palo Alto water.
What’s in Palo Alto water?
Here are the top 5 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Bromodichloromethane – Potential effect: Cancer
- Chloroform – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5 and HAA9) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are five of the 18 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
8 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Palo Alto have Lead contamination?
No, Palo Alto does not currently have lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected from 2015 through 2017 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 Palo Alto’s water come from?
Palo Alto’s water comes from the Adobe Creek – Frontal San Francisco Bay Estuaries watershed.
There are No assessed water sources in the Adobe Creek – Frontal San Francisco Bay Estuaries watershed.
Ideally, a water source would be Assessed, Known, and rated in Good condition. (California, taken as a state, has a long history of water shortages, quality issues, and battles over water rights.)
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of three uses:
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Palo Alto’s water.
What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Palo Alto 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 90% of contaminants in your drinking water. (Berkey Light and Travel Berkey are the only types available in California.)
- This includes Chloroform and Haloacetic acids.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of any Lead in Palo Alto water.
- Brita can filter 10 contaminants 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 14 of the 18 contaminants, 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:
- Chromium (total)
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium
- 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.cityofpaloalto.org/Home to find contact information for your local officials.