Unsafe drinking water isn’t something that Lathrop residents are going to have to deal with.
On Monday the Lathrop City Council renewed a contract with H20 Urban Solutions to continue to provide oversight of the Louise Avenue Water Treatment Facility as the community prepares for a period of growth.
But it was the discussion about the $106,000 contract that was the most telling – especially when councilman Paul Akinjo started asking questions about the long-term safety and viability of the water that flows from people’s taps.
Spurred by a series of high-profile water scandals throughout the United States, Akinjo wanted to know whether Lathrop’s water is tested for lead and other contaminants that can be harmful if consumed in large quantities over a period of time.
According to city staff, nearly 40 homes in the older portion of Lathrop – which are more prone to higher concentrations of elements because of the age and material of water piping – are monitored every three years to determine whether the water that comes out when the faucet is turned on meets California’s stringent water standards.
The steps to ensuring that it’s safe, however, goes far beyond just those mandatory tests.
According to City Engineer Glen Gebhardt, who was stepping in for absent City Manager Steve Salvatore, Lathrop makes sure that the water that is distributed to residents that comes from sources other than the ground wells that serve the majority of the community – like the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s surface water – undergoes a series of treatments before it is distributed to households. The reason that is important, Gebhardt said, is because the pH differences need to be offset in order to create system continuity.
Differences in the hardness of the water and the elements contained within, Gebhardt said, can cause leaching – part of the problem that has been seen in other communities that are still figuring out ways to ensure safe water delivery is standard for residents.
When pressed about whether Lathrop would be able to continue to provide safe drinking water for years to come by Akinjo, Gebhardt said that the city will continue to provide water that “meets California’s standards.”
Over the years as standards have become stricter, Lathrop has adapted in order to ensure that their existing city wells – which technically pump water above certain acceptable levels for elements like arsenic – are able to be used to modern treatment practices and standards. Wells with water high in uranium utilize blending to dilute the concentration before it is sent out to residents.