The California Water Code helps the government maintain its responsibilities to inform residents of water quality issues and to ensure that the practices and maintenance of water supplies are up to code. As a part of these regulations, City Council of the City of San Juan Bautista, pursuant to Sections 350 through 359, recently informed residents of a critical shortage of water available for consumption by City’s water users.
At the hearing, it was noted that the city may be forced to take measures in regards to the city’s water. According to Benito Link, officials may declare a water shortage emergency upon investigation into the demands and requirements of the water consumers. If their needs fail to be met without depletion of the water supply without affected sufficient water for human consumption, sanitation, and fire protection, a water shortage emergency will be initiated. Before such a declaration can be made, all interested persons shall have an opportunity to be heard to protest against a declaration and to present their respective needs to the Council.
Residents also received a letter which explained that there were high nitrate levels found in water. Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen-oxygen chemical units which combine with various organic and inorganic compounds. The greatest use of nitrates is as a fertilizer. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted to nitrites. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates nitrates in drinking water to protect public health. They have set the nitrate standard or maximum contaminant level (MCL), of 45 milligrams per liter.
How nitrates in drinking water are handled is an important issue. First, nitrate in drinking water is a serious health concern for infants less than six months old. Those who have drunk high levels of nitrates above the MCL may become ill very quickly and, if untreated, may die because high nitrate levels can interfere with the capacity of the infant’s blood to carry oxygen. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blueness of the skin. Just as nitrates are dangerous to infants, pregnant women should also avoid drinking water with high levels of nitrates as they could affect the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood of pregnant women.
Unfortunately, boiling water will not solve the issue. Boiling, freezing, filtering or letting water stand does not reduce the nitrates level. Excessive boiling can make the nitrates more concentrated, because nitrates remain behind when the water evaporates. It is imperative that any resident who has been warned of high nitrate levels avoid cooking or making water, juice or formula with this water. Filtered water should be used for infants until the issue has been resolved.