Providing safe, reliable tap water to our customers is our highest priority at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). In 2015 alone, LADWP collected more than 32,000 water samples throughout the city and performed more than 147,000 water quality tests to ensure that the water delivered to all of our customers throughout the city met or exceeded all drinking water standards for health and safety set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of California. The rigorous sampling and testing continues with the same frequency today in order to ensure our customers receive the highest quality water we can serve.
Recently, LADWP has received calls from customers in the Watts and Green Meadows communities, including four Los Angeles Unified School District schools, reporting turbidity or intermittent cloudiness in their tap water. Discoloration in water was also reported by residents who attended an Environmental Justice Town Hall meeting on May 7, 2016, where LADWP water quality staff was present. LADWP takes these concerns seriously and reported today to the City Council, in response to a motion by Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Councilmember Joe Buscaino, that it is taking immediate steps to address the issue.
LADWP continues to test the water in the Watts area for water quality and has increased the frequency of testing from weekly to daily in this part of our water system. Water samples are taken at four different locations serving the Watts and Green Meadows neighborhoods and over 2,400 tests are conducted each year from the four locations. To date, all test results show that the water is in compliance with limits for more than 200 regulated and unregulated contaminants and current findings confirm that the drinking water continues to meet all standards for safe drinking water. However, intermittent cloudiness and sediment in the water we serve our customers is unacceptable and understandably leads to concerns about the safety and appearance of the water.
Potential causes of the recent water discoloration experienced by some customers include higher levels of iron and manganese in the Central Basin wells that serve the area, high velocity pumping by street sweeping trucks from fire hydrants which may stir up sediment in the pipes, and a recent incident of a damaged fire hydrant in the neighborhood that “kicked up” sediment within the pipes. In addition, buildup of sediment in the pipe network may occur intermittently in a water system as large as ours depending on the source of the water, in this case, treated well-water, as well as geographic location in our water distribution system. The age of pipes is not a factor because the pipes in this area of the city are relatively new, having mostly been replaced in the 1980s and 1990s.
To address the problem, LADWP will begin flushing out the water pipe system in the Watts and Green Meadows neighborhoods through area fire hydrants. The flushing activity will begin this week and will take at least one month to complete. LADWP crews will move from one end of the water distribution system serving the local area to another until all of the pipes have been flushed, block by block.
While LADWP had suspended the practice of flushing pipes in the early 2000s due to the extended drought, flushing the pipes serving the affected communities over the course of the next several weeks will help remove the sediment some customers have reported in their tap water and improve water quality.
During the period of flushing, residents may continue to notice cloudiness. Residents will be notified of flushing activity in their area through door hangers placed by LADWP crews as they move from area to area.
The communities affected by this issue are served by LADWP’s 99th Street Wells Water Treatment Facility. As part of our commitment to transparency, and to acknowledge the concerns of residents, we emphasize that the reported water turbidity is unrelated to an incident that occurred at the 99th Street Wells Water Treatment Facility in January, in which six hours passed between water treatments, requiring a public notification to be issued.
We will continue to provide updates about the progress of the flushing operation every two weeks at www.ladwpnews.com.