Safe Drinking Water Facts

Effecting Santa Barbara and Ventura

Dingy gray clothing? Dandruff, psoriasis, rash or itchy skin?

It could be the water. Find out what's in your tap water. The Environmental Protection Agency supplies basic information on the condition of your local water supply. Check out the EPA's directory of local Water Reports.

The Dangers of Chlorinated Water.

The Dangers of Chlorinated Water

Trihalomethanes (THMs), by-products from chlorination, appear to increase significantly in the bloodstream after showering, says a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Public Health.

How does your water stack up?

Take a look and see how your water stacks up. We compiled this list for quick reference only, the actual water quality reports are included and go into far greater detail and should be referenced if you are looking for specific information on a substance or contaminate. Please contact us if you would like to see another city listed for comparison. Although we frequently test loacl water and find it does not match the published qualities, we have provided: Santa Barbara Water Quality Report, Goleta Water Quality Report, Montecito Water Quality Report, Ventura Water Quality Report, Oxnard Water Quality Report, Westlake Water Quality Report, Los Angeles Water Quality Report, Iliakai Water Quality Report, Honolulu Water Quality Report, Denver Water Quality Report, San Francisco Water Quality Report, and the cream of the crop New York Water Quality Report.

LocationTDS ppmHardness GrainsLead ppbTrihalomethanes ppbChlorine Residual ppm
New York 52 12 .6 38 .67
San Francisco 101 3.6 11.5 62 nr
Denver 179 nr 9 27 nr
Los Angeles 193 5.62 10 16-90 .03-5.8
Westlake 302 8.07 nd 15-67.9 nr
Ventura River 548 20.82 2 32 nr
Carpinteria 628 21.88 n/a 85.1 1.09
Montecito 554-739 21-25.09 1-1.4 2.1-180 nd-2.13
Santa Barbara 536-1141 19.42-38.66 1.7 66 nr
Goleta 564-1030 15.44-33.28 nd 38-96 nr
Oxnard 1166 35.44 5.1 39.9-56 nr
Ventura Ground 1242 38.72 2 32 nr
Honolulu nr nr nr .935 nr

Store safe drinking water to avoid dehydration

If you don't see the city listed, or for the most current reports check the EPA's directory of local Water Reports

Safe drinking water is the most important item to store

Loss of safe drinking water can be deadly. Most people, with few exceptions, will start feeling the effects if they do without water for more than 36 hours. Dehydration occurs much quicker than starvation. Our bodies can tolerate the loss of food much better. With an ample water supply, starvation is delayed many days, even weeks. The city water supply is vulnerable to the effects of a large earthquake. Contaminants can get into the drinking water supply through ruptures in the pipes, the mixing up of supply sediments, the adulteration of filtering system, etc. Do not take our water for granted. Plan ahead and store a sufficient supply for your family.

How much should I store?

A good rule of thumb is: ONE GALLON PER PERSON PER DAY FOR 7 DAYS (MINIMUM). A three week supply of water is ideal.

Water sources

Bottleless water from the store - one and two gallon sealed containers. NOTE: The one and 2 gallon containers that you purchase in your local store are not designed for long term storage and will begin to leak after about six months.

  • One and five gallon sealable containers - From camping or survival stores. Be sure to sanitize container and treat the water that you are storing. Old bleach bottles clearly marked, make good containers for water storage.
  • Five gallon sealed containers from private water companies - Water companies claim their containers are good forever if still factory sealed. Store all plastic water containers on a wooden pallet or shelf. Keep water containers in a location where container failure will not destroy your other supplies. Keep all water and supplies in a cool dark place.
  • DO NOT STORE ANY PLASTIC WATER CONTAINER DIRECTLY ON CONCRETE. The concrete will leech chemicals into the water, contaminating it. Concrete will also degrade the plastic bottle causing failure.

Purifying your tap water

Any water that you make up yourself needs to be treated. If left untreated over time, it becomes contaminated with bacteria and algae.

  • NOTE: ROTATE YOUR WATER EVERY SIX MONTHS (this includes the one and two gallon sealed bottles purchased at the store, and the supply you made up from tap water with bleach added.)

Another source of water is the hot water heater. Every water heater has a drain valve near the bottom.

Getting the water out of your water heater

  • Use extreme caution. Let the water cool.
  • Turn off the cold water supply to the tank
  • Turn off the gas or electric heater for the tank
  • Open the drain valve at the bottom
  • REMEMBER: Some sediment at the bottom of the tank may at first make water flowing out look murky. Continue to drain water until it becomes clear.

Other sources of water in your home

  • Toilet Water Storage Tank: NOTE: Use the water from the storage tank - NOT THE TOILET BOWL (Don't drink the water if you use coloring or chemicals in it)
  • Melted Ice Cubes are a source of water. Packed Can Goods (even syrups are mostly water)
  • Water Trapped in Home Piping: Water can sometimes be removed by locating and shutting off the main water valve. Open the valve at the highest point of your property, then when you open the valve at the lowest point, gravity will force the water from the pipes.

If the purity of your water is questionable, use the following moethods to make water safe to drink

Add liquid chlorine bleach to the water. Eight drops per gallon of water. Double this dose if the water is cloudy.

Add 2% tincture of iodine to the water. Twelve drops per gallon of water. Double this dose if the water is cloudy.

boil the water vigorously for ten minutes.

Do not forget to clean and sanitize your food containers before using them. Wash with soap and warm water, then fill with a 10% bleach solution. After five minutes empty the bleach solution and let dry.

Water that is dirty should first be strained through a coffee filter, cheese cloth or a paper towel to remove suspended matter.

Copyrighted 1997: Los Angeles City Fire Department
Earthquake Handbook coded by:
Bud Gundersen, LAFD Ret.

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pets

Always keep identification on your pets. Microchips are available at your local Vet's office. If you animal loses his collar and comes to a shelter both the Humane Society and the Department of Animal Regulation are equipped with scanners. All stray animals are checked for microchips.

Pet disaster supplies kit

  • A 2-week supply of food and water (stored in plastic containers). Food and water bowls, cat litter/pan and can opener.
  • Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carrier to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
  • Information on feeding schedule, medical condition, behavior problems, and the name and number of your Veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
  • A duffel bag makes a great storage bag for your pet's supplies.

If you are aware of an impending disaster, bring your animals inside immediately. Be sure that they are wearing identification.

If you have to evacuate take your pet with you! Red Cross Shelters do not accept animals in their shelters. Now is the time to make arrangements with friends and family to temporarily house your pets. Some hotels in the area do accept animals. Find those hotels. Shelters will accept animals in times of disaster, but please do not rely on them, as they will be rescuing animals that are wandering and homeless. If you should lose your animal, be sure to contact your local shelters and post fliers with recent photographs of your pet.

As with all of our services, emergency water service is important, we offer this service for all of our customers including residential homes, businesses, retirement facilities, office. The Central Coast is known for earthquakes, fires and floods: Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Ynez, Solvang, Buellton and Los Olivos have some of the most beautiful homes, apartment buildings, and condominiums. Unfortunately, we all need to be ready for an emergency. Having the delivery service of emergency bottleless water and keeping it in a cool dark location is important. In addition to Santa Barbara county, we also offer emergency water delivery to Ventura, Oxnard, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Port Huneme, Somis, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, More Park, Westlake Village, Agora and most all of Ventura County. Please don't delay on setting up this type plan for your family, employees, or guests.


What is Hard Water?

Water described as "hard" is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium, magnesium, and iron. Hard water is a nuisance because of mineral buildup on fixtures, plumbing, appliances, and poor soap and detergent performance. It also contributes to skin and hair problems as well as. If your dishes come out of the dishwasher with a white film; if it takes more then a damp cloth to clean your glass shower doors; if your colored laundry comes out “dull” and whites are a bit gray; if you need products like “Lime-A-Way” then you are literally paying the price for hard water. Santa Barbara has some of the hardest water in the country. Large amounts of magnesium, calcium, and iron can really be detrimental to you plumbing, fixtures, skin, hair, dishes, and clothes in the long run. Water hardness is classified by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Water Quality Association as follows:

Classification Grains per Gallon
Soft 0-1
Slightly Hard 1-3.5
Moderately Hard 3.5-7.0
Hard 7.0-10.5
Very Hard 10.5 and up

In Santa Barbara County the water tests at 25 to 38 grains per gallon with areas in Ventura and Oxnard at 26 - 45. This puts us at about 3 - 4 times the national level for very hard water.

Does My Region Have Hard Water?

The Central Coast: Malibu, Port Hueneme, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Westlake Village, Camarillo, Ventura, Ojai, Oxnard, La Conchita, and Rincon Point, have some of the most beautiful homes, apartment buildings, and condominiums. Unfortunately, we have extremely hard water creating cloudy glasses, bad hair days and clothes that just never seem clean. We carry several different types of water softeners, water conditioners, and water filters in stock for rental or purchase. A soft water system will save you thousands of dollars every year by protecting all of your water using appliances and plumbing. Not only will you protect your home you will use up to 80% less cleaning products and reduce cleaning time. The time is now! Upgrade and old water softener, water conditioner, water filter, or reverse osmosis system… Save water, time, money, and the environment!

What is Soft Water?

Water that has been softened has had the hardness minerals that cause all the problems with your dishes, fixtures, laundry, skin, and hair removed. We offer water softeners that can bring the grains per gallon down to 0. The most common way to soften the water is with an automatic water softener.

Why do I need salt?

Automatic water softeners use salt to “recharge” their ability to soften your water. The main vessel is flushed with salt water, also called “brine”, which removes all the calcium and magnesium that the unit has removed from your water supply. The brine and the hardness minerals are then rinsed out of the unit into a drain. The salt itself is not directly “injected” into the water supply. As a comparison, one slice of white bread has 161 milligrams of sodium; 3/4 cup of canned baked beans = 1130 milligrams. Even a common Alka Seltzer tablet contains 532 milligrams of sodium. However, if you are on a sodium restricted diet, you should consult your doctor about the proper water for drinking. Remember, a reverse osmosis system will remove 99% of the sodium a softener may add.

Initial Hardness Sodium Added
1.0 grain per Gallon 7.5 mil/quart
5.0 grains per Gallon 37.5 mil/quart
10.0 grains per Gallon 75.0 mil/quart
20.0 grains per Gallon 150.0 mil/quart
40.0 grains per Gallon 300.0 mil/quart

What’s the difference between salt and potassium?

Potassium can be used as a substitute for salt. Potassium is more expensive than salt and is less efficient. Potassium is best used when waste goes to a “grey water system” instead of a sewer, or if a family member is on a sodium restricted diet and they plan on drinking or cooking with softened water.

Why does my machine make a scary noise at night like rain/waterfall?

The softener makes noise when it regenerates. When the softener regenerates it rinses out all of the bad things it’s pulled out of your water. Your Unit is timed to recharge at night so it can provide you uninterrupted soft water during the day. Most units can also set up the softener to regenerate during the day.

How often is my softener supposed to regenerate?

The softener should regenerates based on your water usage and the physical size of the softener. If you use a lot of water, you should expect your softener to regenerate more frequently (daily to 7 days). If you use very little water, it should regenerate less frequently (10 to 20 days). You should have the system checked periodically to make sure its running efficiently and not wasting salt and water. Free 5-year inspection click here.

I have a softener but I suspect I still have hard water?

The settings may be incorrect or you may have soft water and are using the wrong cleaning products. Anyone is welcome to stop by our office where we will test your water for free, or call us and we’ll schedule a time to have a technician stop by and examine your softener.

Can I drink soft water?

Most water softeners are not designed to improve the taste or smell of the water. Most customers won’t drink the tap water if it is softened or not. The most important thing to remember is that softened water will have slightly higher sodium or potassium levels then the plain tap water. If you are on a sodium or potassium restricted diet you should use a Reverse Osmosis system for your drinking water or consult with your physician.

What is purified water?

The term purified water is used to describe water that has had impurities like minerals, salts, bacteria, viruses, and sediment removed. Purified water is measured by ppm, or parts per million. This gives an accurate measure of how much “stuff” is in your water. Santa Barbara county tests at 450ppm – 1100ppm, well above the national average. However, with the right purification process, the ppm can be brought down to the 2ppm - 40ppm range.

Do you do bottleless water?

Yes, however most of our customers use reverse osmosis drinking water systems because they end up less expensive and much more convenient than delivering bottleless water. Reverse osmosis units can come in a stand-alone dispenser, feed icemakers, and will provide you with a continuous supply of purified water without the hassle of changing bottles.

What is reverse osmosis?

Reverse osmosis is the finest filtration known. This process will allow the removal of particles as small as ions from a solution. Reverse osmosis is used to purify water and remove salts and other impurities in order to improve the color, taste or properties of the water. The most common use for reverse osmosis is in purifying water. It is used to produce water that meets the most demanding specifications that are currently in place.

How often do I need a filter change?

In a reverse osmosis system there are two types of filters. If you have a high quality unit, the first type is the carbon filters, and those need to be inspected every 18-24 months. The main filter of the unit is the membrane filter and that filter needs to be serviced every two to four years. In a low quality unit the carbon filters need to be changed every 2-6 months and the membrane every year. If you freeze some water and it comes out cloudy, you should have the filters changed. If the taste of the water just doesn’t seem right, the filters should be checked.

Why is my hair turning green?

High levels of chlorine as well as elevated copper levels in water will cause green hair or hair to turn green. Although professional stylists can do “green out treatments” they are harsh on the hair and are costly. Testing for copper and chlorine is relatively straight forward and inexpensive, if copper and or chlorine are detected they are usually easy to fix.

How come my plumbing has pin hole leaks?

A pinhole leaks in copper plumbing is an indication that there may be galvanic corrosion or electrolysis occurring and dissolving your plumbing. Testing for elevated copper levels and checking for proper grounding is a good place to start. In addition to pinhole leaks, customers with this problem may experience a green tint to their hair. This problem is more noticeable for both natural and assisted blondes and silvers; it is best to fix the problem and not just “go brunette” as some husbands may recommend. This is much more than a hair color issue.