Quality of drinking water in the area

Census tracts ranked by drinking water contamination, based on data released by the Environmental Protection Agency. (Steve Greenberg / Glendale News Press / April 23, 2014)

Though state officials point to high levels of arsenic, chromium 6 and uranium in Burbank’s water in a recent report, city officials claim the data is based on untreated groundwater, saying what flows out of residents’ taps far exceeds mandated requirements.

Sam Delson, a deputy director for external and legislative affairs for California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard, said Burbank toxicity score was based on data gathered from treated water, but local water officials contend this is not the case.

Scoring is based on the presence of 12 carcinogenic and seven noncarcinogenic contaminants, Delson said.

He added that the scores in the report are based on public health goals developed by the office and are not mandatory, unlike the actual maximum contaminant levels set by the state.

One of the driving factors for Burbank was its level of chromium 6, Delson said.

According to the most recent water quality report published in 2012, Burbank’s water had 3.1 parts per billion, lower than the state’s cap at 10 parts billion, but higher than the public health goal of 0.02 billion.

Uranium levels were at 7.8 picocuries per liter, less than the maximum allowed amount of 20, yet higher than the 0.43 threshold, the water quality report read.

Arsenic levels in 2012 were at 1.1 parts per billion, which is lower than the state’s maximum level of 10 and higher than the public health goal of .004 parts per billion, according to the report.

Burbank’s water undergoes treatment at a local facility before it is blended with water purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said Tony Umphenour, a water quality analyst with the city.

Looking to the past, he said local aircraft manufacturing facilities played a role in releasing some contaminants into the water, but those carcinogens are now being treated.

“Burbank’s water is safe by all state and federal standards,” Umphenour said. “It’s safe drinking water.”

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Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.

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