Lebec Water District lab tests show high fluoride levels

By Gary Meyer
Lebec County Water District (LCWD) has been notified by its lab that fluoride levels in its Well No. 3, serving the Chimney Canyon area, are in violation of drinking water standards.

There was no mention of notices or of the problem at the July 16 LCWD Board meeting, despite the fact that there were several members of the public there and newspaper reporters who could have helped alert the public.

According to a state-required notice dated “7/1/13” by LCWD, testing results for water samples collected by LCWD during July and October of 2012, and January and April of 2013 from Well No. 3 show the drinking water has an average fluoride concentration of 2.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L), which exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 2.0 mg/L allowed under state health laws.

According to the California Department of Public Health, drinking water containing more than 4 mg/L of fluoride can lead to a risk of developing bone disease. But at 2.2 mg/L level, the primary public health concern is cosmetic.

For instance, the teeth of young children might become pitted with brown spots. It is recommended that children under 9 years of age use bottled water for drinking until the district’s problem is solved. LCWD’s notice to their customers states that “this is not an emergency.”

The California Code of Regulations says: “A water system shall give the notice [to its customers] as soon as possible within 30 days after it learns of a violation…”

Water board president Julie McWhorter was asked to comment about the apparent delay but did not respond by press time.

A public records request has been filed with the California Department of Public Health.

This is part of the August 2, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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