Contaminants in our Las Vegas Valley's Water (Microorganisms)
After one sip of our tap water here in the valley, you might notice a funny taste to it. While it might not be enough of a taste to prevent you from drinking your water further, you may jump to google to investigate it further. A quick google search of “Las Vegas Water” will give you a top search suggestion of “Is it okay to drink tap water in Las Vegas?”. That rabbit hole is followed up with scare tactics galore from water filtration companies letting you know how toxic our water is and how you need water treatment for your home. With keeping your source in mind, how can you separate tactic from reality? Where can you find true information, without bias, explaining in layman’s terms what is going on with our water?
Bottom line, the levels of each contaminant found in our water are all deemed safe according to federal and state standards. That being said, seeing any levels of arsenic, lead, or uranium showing up in our water report would make anyone feel somewhat startled. So what are the rest of these contaminants and what could the potential effects of exposure be?
We hope to explain that by pulling information from the Las Vegas Valley Water District and EPA themselves and breaking it down, contaminant by contaminant. In this series, we will go over the contaminants found in our water broken down by category: Microorganisms, Disinfectants, Disinfection Byproducts, Inorganic Chemicals, Organic Chemicals, and Radionuclides. This first week, we will be covering Microorganisms.
Total Coliforms (including fecal coliform and E. Coli)
Coliforms are naturally occurring bacterias present in the environment coming from human and animal waste. With 90% of our water coming from Lake Mead and 99% of all water used indoors getting recycled, it’s no wonder we occasional detect these in our water. The EPA lets us know that they are “Not a health threat in itself; it is used to indicate whether other potentially harmful bacteria may be present”. Ideally, the EPA would like 0% of the tests done monthly to show positive findings of these bacteria. We had a maximum of 0.3% positive per month, averaging 0% positive.
Turbidity is not a microorganism itself, but is just a measure of the cloudiness of the water to determine water quality and the effectiveness of filtration. Turbidity typically comes from soil runoff. From the EPA: “Higher turbidity levels are often associated with higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria. These organisms can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.” Our findings are below the EPA’s standards of 95% of samples being under 0.3 NTU with 100% of our samples being under 0.3 NTU. Our maximum NCU of the year was 0.08.
Las Vegas Valley Water District 2022 Report:
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations from the EPA: