Earlier this month, Fresno’s City Hall announced that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the city is in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). That means Fresno’s drinking water has less than the required 0.015 mg/L (milligrams per liter or 15 parts per billion) of lead in drinking water, meeting EPA standards.
GV Wire has obtained the actual letter, dated January 19, which the EPA wrote to Tom Howard, Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board. The letter also states that “(w)e also identified monitoring inconsistencies with the LCR requirements that need to be addressed through follow-up action by DDW (California Division of Drinking Water).”
The letter, from Tomas Torres, EPA Director of the Water Division, also wrote:
“Notwithstanding the City’s compliance with the leas action level, recent sampling by the City has found instances of elevated lead in homes, particularly in Northeast Fresno. We understand that the City is addressing these instances through targeted sampling, fixture replacement and educational outreach. We commend the City for taking these actions and will monitor the City’s continued response to elevated lead levels in tap samples.”
In 2016, the city says it became aware of discolored water problems in homes in northeast Fresno. Residents of that part of town say they have had problems since 2004, when a new surface water treatment plant went online, designed to serve 40,000 people. Water experts believe the problems were caused by galvanized pipes that corroded and caused discoloration.
The EPA became involved last August to investigate the situation. They said they would review the city’s compliance with LCR. Action is taken if more than 10% of the samples from fixtures typically used for drinking (i.e. kitchen or bathroom sink) show an exceeded level of what is allowable by LCR.
Among its recommendations:
- Revise the lead and copper tap sampling strategy to identify more representative samples of water quality in the distribution system within 60 days of the date this report is issued (January 19).
- Return to initial lead and copper tap sampling frequency.
- Conduct initial water quality parameters (WQP) monitoring at entry points and within the distribution system.
- Establish WQPs for the Northeast Surface Water Treatment Plant.