Bay Point Residents Fighting for Healthier Drinking Water and Lower Rates
May 15, 2007
A group of Bay Point residents has mobilized to improve the quality of their drinking water and to stop their water company from raising prices.
Though Bay Point already pays more for water service than any other community in East Contra Costa County, it gets the poorest quality water. And now Golden State Water Company wants to raise rates. The residents will bring their fight before the California Public Utilities Commission at a hearing 7 p.m. Thursday, May 17 at the Ambrose Park and Recreation Center, 3105 Willow Pass Road, Bay Point.
Besides not being fluoridated, Bay Point drinking water also has the highest level of disinfectant by-products in the East County. Long-term exposure to high levels of these contaminants can potentially cause cancer, according to Contra Costa Public Health Director Dr. Wendel Brunner, who wrote a letter opposing the rate hike to the California Public Utilities Commission.
"Bay Point, one of the lowest income communities in Contra Costa, already pays the highest rate for water service in Contra Costa, yet is provided with the poorest quality water in East County. There is no justification for a price increase, especially since there is no guarantee that this rate hike would fund the needed improvements in the drinking water system," Brunner said.
Bay Point is one of only two communities in Contra Costa County that receives drinking water from a private company. The Contra Costa Water District now provides treated drinking water to all other East County residents, or provides untreated water to the municipal water systems. These public water systems not only have lower rates, but also supply their customers with two health-protective features that Bay Point residents don't receive: Fluoridation and low levels of potentially cancer-causing disinfection byproducts.
Dental problems, especially among children, are one of the most prevalent health issues identified among residents seen at Contra Costa Health Services' Bay Point Health Center, Brunner said. Drinking water fluoridation has long been proven to improve dental health, and all other water systems in East County have been providing fluoridated drinking water for many years. The Golden State Water Company has chosen not to fluoridate the drinking water.
Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs), including trihalomethanes (THMs), are the unintended consequence of the very important public health goal of disinfecting drinking water at the treatment plant, said Michael Kent, Hazardous Materials Ombudsman for Contra Costa Health Services. Long-term consumption of high levels of DBPs can increase the risk of getting certain cancers. The Golden State Water Company does barely meet the current regulatory limit for these chemicals. However, the levels of these DBPs can be reduced by utilizing modern disinfection techniques in the treatment plants. Although the Golden State Water Company uses the same main source of untreated water, all the other water systems in East County have a much lower level of THMs.
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