All I Want is a Clean Glass of Water

Is anyone else in LA afraid to drink the water? Like everyone I know, I’ve got one of those Brita water filters. I figure at least it gets the particulate gunk and some chlorine out of the water. But after reading this article in the LA times last month, I’m suddenly pretty sure it doesn’t keep my water as clean and free of chemicals as I want. TCE, a highly toxic by-product of making artillery and other wonderful things our nation of war is known for, is in lots of the water tables in California. And not just here in Southern California. As I write this, I’m on location for a show in North Carolina and apparently the ground water here is contaminated from Camp Le Jeune, a couple of counties away. The correlating rates of cancer in the regions with this contamination are through the roof.

My first response was to get bottled water, but after a little research, I’m finding that bottled water isn’t regulated, tested regularly and sometimes comes from water sources that are no cleaner than our tap water. Now I’m looking into a big filter for my whole house and what seems to be the (very expensive!) solution is to actually distill my water. I’m gonna keep researching this, and willl report back…. but does anyone else have any accurate info on how to get the cleanest, safest water to drink in Los Angeles?

10 thoughts on “All I Want is a Clean Glass of Water”

  1. I’m not afraid to drink it, I just don’t like the taste.

    At home we have a filter under the sink – got it at Costco for about $180 and we change the filters once a year (for about $60). Pretty cost efficient. (But I still drink Crystal Geyser water, mostly because I like the taste.)

    I don’t think distilled water is actually good for healthy people – there are lots of trace minerals and salts in there that are good for us.

  2. Being from Burbank, I stopped deliberately drinking tap water years ago. Still, eating out means intaking tap water, and if I forget to go shooping and have to choose between skipping my morning joe and using tap water, I’m going for the caffeine fix.

    But as you point out, finding water you know is clean can be a difficult (perhaps impossible) task. From what I gather, a combination of filters and reverse osmosis is the best, but I’m no expert and others may know better. I *do* know reverse osmosis ain’t cheap and, along with the filters, needs regular maintenance, or you’ll have water that’s way more toxic than what’s coming unfiltered out of the tap.

    Another thing I remember hearing about distilled water is that it lacks the minerals that your body needs, so if you use it you’ll need to get those minerals elsewhere.

    BTW, I don’t know if the quality of the water is better in the San Gabriel Valley, but I have noticed that the tap water in Monrovia (where I work) is much, much tastier than water in Burbank or most of L.A.

  3. “…does anyone else have any accurate info on how to get the cleanest, safest water to drink in Los Angeles?”

    Move to Kern county. We take their water anyway.

  4. Well Kern county AND LA County have very toxic water….that’s part of the problemso that’s not an option.
    Re: the filters….yeah, reverse osmosis does seem to be the best option, but high maintenence, but distilled is the cleanest (ie no chemicals).
    I take minerals already….so figure between that and the coffee/restaurant food I drink enough regular water. It’s just a pain….and bottled doesn’t seem to be as clean as people think it is.

  5. Some spring water bottlers have much better disclosure of sources/methods than others. I’d suggest a walk down Whole Foods’ aisles. For example, there’s Trinity which cannot legally be called spring water (it’s a “mineral supplement”). Their spring is a geothermal one miles beneath the surface of the planet. Comes at a price though.

    I would definitely second the thought about reverse osmosis being the best filtration. I use the Aquasana which is pretty economical, and you can sign up for an plan where they send you replacement filters automatically. It’s not really labor-intensive; it takes me like five minutes.

  6. I’m not the biggest imbiber of tap water ’round these parts. Just plum tastes bad. When I was up in Paso Robles for wine activities, their water has a sulphur smell to it, so I think we’re actually sort of lucky. But still, I’ve had my share of tap water during my habitation of this city and I haven’t grown an arm or died yet. Yet.

  7. Hi my name is Neil. I run the TCE Blog ( We track news and information about TCE and TCE exposed communities across the country.

    Don’t have much to add re: effective filters (I don’t know of any), but be advised drinking water should not be the only concern. TCE can be dangerous if it is consumed, absorbed through skin (showering, swimming, washing, etc), or inhaled (steam from showers, vapors intrusion).

    Any use of TCE contaminated water or air could be dangerous. If there is unsafe TCE contamination in your neighborhood, public health authorities should be pressed to take action right away.

    Lots more news and info on TCE at the TCE Blog.

    best, neil

  8. Your characterization of LA water as “very toxic” is a bit hyperbolistic, isn’t it? I mean, we’re not all running around with diarrhea or lead poisoning. The number on killer you should watch out for is artery disease, plain and simple. It kills half of all women.

    Reverse osmosis (what we have) with a 5 stage filter isn’t much maintenance at all and very cost effective. We had it installed and a year a later we replaced the filters. Most of the time we just call the guy who installed it in the first place and he does the work ($20 + filters). Much simpler than lugging your own water and it means that things like pasta get made in better water. And of course the dog gets filtered water too.

    I agree with Neil though that some of the worst stuff is absorbed through our skin and investing in a special showerhead might not be a bad idea if you’re concerned.

  9. I’ve never been a fan of tap water, whether it be in my hometown of Arcadia, or in my apartment in Downtown LA. I have always done the Brita filter, but the one that is currently in my apartment has turned green (gross!), so I refuse to drink anything other than bottled water. I know all the stories about how unclean that is, but it’s so much more convenient to grab with all the running around I do. Plus, at least I know I can see through it.

  10. Getting on this topic a little late, but maybe someone’s still reading. There are a lot of alarmists when it comes to the safety of public drinking water. But why not start with the facts. LA residents can read about the levels of measured contaminants (such as TCE) online:

    Similar reports are available for Burbank and other cities with independent supplies. Each report summarizes TCE measured, and compares it to the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) allowed by law. As you will see, typical cities do fine at handling this issue.

    Of course there is a debate about the need for more strict limits on TCE concentrations. And so if you want to protect yourself better than the law requires, begin with tap water and add your own filter as a second level of protection. If you do a web search for “TCE remediation”, you’ll discover that Granular Activated Carbon (GAC a.k.a. “charcoal”) is a popular method of treatment. So perhaps add a charcoal filter to your tap. But as noted by another post above, the reported “thousands” of deaths in the USA due to TCE is statistically insignificant. So consider it, but don’t pull your hair out. Perhaps if you are pregnant or have a recently born child, extra precautions are (arguably) a good thing since the early ages are most prone to (so many) bad things…

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