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Local Drinking Water Named Among the Worst in Nation

However, water agency officials say the report is "grossly inaccurate."

Editor's note:  This story has been updated to provide feedback from the Eastern Municipal Water District.

You may have noticed a report circulating social media and the web, naming our local water agency among the worst in the nation.

According to a new report by Daily Finance, a recent analysis of water supplies in major U.S. cities found that "a surprising number" of them have water with "unhealthy levels of chemicals and contaminants."

"The website 24/7 Wall St. examined the quality of water supplies in most major America cities, using data collected from multiple sources for five years (ending in 2009) by Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in Washington, D.C.," the report states.  "The fact that the data covered a half-decade is important because it shows that the presence of certain chemicals is persistent."

Based on EWG's methodology, 24/7 Wall Street came up with a list of the ten cites in America with the "worst" drinking water, based on: 
  • The percentage of chemicals found based on the number that were tested for
  • The total number of contaminants found
  • The most dangerous average level of a single pollutant
Three of the ten "cities" (though the report does name water districts, which may serve more than a city) are in Southern California.  

Coming in at Number 4 on the list?  Riverside County's Eastern Municipal Water District.

Here's what the report has to say:

Riverside county is a 7,200-square-mile area located north of San Diego, part of California's "Inland Empire." The county is primarily located in desert territory, and so the water utilities draw their supply from the Bay Delta, which is miles to the north.

The water in Riverside County contained 13 chemicals that exceeded recommended health guidelines over the four tested years, and one that exceeded legal limits.

In total, 22 chemicals were detected in the district's water supply. The contaminant exceeding legal health standards was tetrachloroethylene.

According to the Eastern Municipal Water District's website, the agency provides drinking water to retail customers in the cities of Moreno Valley, Menifee, Murrieta, and Temecula and the unincorporated communities of Good Hope, Homeland, Lakeview, Nuevo, Mead Valley, Murrieta Hot Springs, Quail Valley, Romoland, Valle Vista and Winchester.

"The District also supplies water on a wholesale basis to the Cities of Hemet, San Jacinto and Perris, Lake Hemet Municipal Water District, Nuevo Water Company, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District and Rancho California Water District," the website states.

"Erroneous Report"

Though the report may seem shocking, Eastern Municipal Water District officials tell Patch not to believe everything you read.  In fact, they claim the entire thing is based off of pre-treated water-- not what comes into your kitchen sink.

"In short, the EWG used our untreated drinking water test results (and did the same with Riverside Public Utilities) and compared it to the treated drinking water for other agencies," Spokesman Kevin Pearson told Patch in an email.  "The EWG later admitted this, and said they knowingly used the incorrect data, but declined to issue a retraction. Eventually, they stopped responding to our legal demands for a retraction."

Pearson says the water is treated thousands of times over, and does not contain the chemicals stated in the report.

"At EMWD, we are proud of the 45,000 water quality tests we perform each year and we have, for decades, met and exceeded all the state and federal drinking water standards," Pearson said.  

What's more, the spokesman says, the report first surfaced a couple years ago.

"Our water is of high quality and we take great pride in ensuring that our customers can be confident with our product,"  he added.  "This report by the EWG blatantly undermines that public trust we have worked so hard to build."


Two other SoCal areas were named in the report, including San Diego (San Diego Water Department) and Riverside (City of Riverside Public Utilities).

The report named Pensacola, Florida's Emerald Coast Water Utility the worst.


ChrisG February 14, 2014 at 12:35 AM
Where do these people think their bottled water comes from?
Janise February 14, 2014 at 01:11 AM
LOL. Bottled water is simply reverse osmosis. It's just the same filtered tap water you get from your fridge. Enjoy your BPA and all the other chemicals that went into making that plastic. Anyways, guys really, you don't know dirty water till you go to another country, turn on the faucet and smell the wrotten egg smell that comes out of it. Once I went to Mex on vacation and that's what it smelled like. The man looked at me like I was crazy because that was Normal water for them. Just be thankful for what you've got. These people who work at the water district have families too and I doubt they want to poison innocent men, women and children. Each of us can make the water cleaner by not using pesticides, fertilizers, phosphates, cleaner laundry detergent, etc. The only clean water left are the Blue Glaciers that are melting in the North which none of us have ever tasted anyway. Come on..
KB February 14, 2014 at 01:27 AM
Tap water for showers, laundry, irrigation and toilets only.
B-Cat February 14, 2014 at 01:53 AM
The water smells like Clorox so i guess its good for whites in the washing machine. I did not need a report to tell me the water wasnt right, just use your senses they warn you. Using Rancho Water in the sprinkler system barely keeps the garden with the grass alive. Did you ever see your lawn after it rained? everything the next day seems to come to life and thriving. why does the water have to be that way and whos at fault, and whomever is get rid of them but first make them drink the stuff for punishment.
TVSteve February 14, 2014 at 03:06 AM
All I can add is that I moved here from the Midwest in August. And while I LOVE the area, people, town and surroundings I do HATE the water! Yuck!!
Alek J Hidell February 14, 2014 at 07:47 AM
true, Steve, but water is EVERYTHING in the desert. And we have nary a drop. We drink mudwater from hundreds of miles away, and it costs a fortune. When will you complaining Okies go back East and ease our population pressure? this is baja..
my comment February 14, 2014 at 10:36 AM
The prices we're being charged are outrageous even if the water was up to standard quality, this is pathetic. My family is even charged extra fees for excessive water use here in Murrieta, and we are very conservative with the water. Obviously the fees aren't being used to help clean the water. -------------------------------- Alek Hidell, yes we live in the desert which makes it hard for us to get better water but that doesn't make this a problem for our entire country. It's ridiculous to call this a 3rd world country, it makes you sound extremely ungrateful. You speak of people being ignorant and then you make comments like that, wow. There are places I have lived and traveled which have amazingly high quality water straight from the tap, like Washington and Colorado for example. It should be extremely obvious that some areas have better water than others, wake up. You seem to despise our country so much, yet you still choose to stay. I've read your comments on many articles so it's really no surprise that you support a man who allegedly assassinated a US president
PirateGirl February 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Alek..........." That's why I hate Americans, so arrogant to think this country is the best in the world"...........then WTH are you doing here? GO BACK from where ever you came from.
SA February 14, 2014 at 10:53 AM
@Hidell … If you hate Americans so much, why don’t you just drink America’s tainted water and off yourself… and BTW it is extremely arrogant of you to make such comment, but heck at least you and Obama have something in common. …
southernbelle February 14, 2014 at 11:33 AM
@Alek haters-ppl, you got understand Alek to love him. He is completely harmless, bitter and grumpy, but really-he's harmless and just likes to rile to release some of his uptight rants. Don't get too worked up over his remarks-- try to think of your old cantankerous grumpy over-opinionated grampa, and just love him for what he is. harmless, really. otherwise you're wasting your time and effort replying. ;o) have a blessed day all!
Santana February 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM
EMWB-your process makes it of the "highest quaility". You don't have to be a scientist to know that the water comming out of the tap in the lakeland village is certainly not of the highest quaility.
southernbelle February 14, 2014 at 11:49 AM
@TVOR--thinking the exact same thing! As soon as I saw WSJ involved--my antennas (sp??) went up. For all the bottle water drinkers (of which I am also), did you know that there are only 3 MAIN bottle water companies that capitalize the water bottle industry? Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nestle. Each distributes 10 or more bottled water under several names: ALL of the ones you see on the shelves. What you're buying is the pretty picture or the lowest priced BOTTLE. You aren't getting water from Hawaii, or Arrowhead, or some bubbling brook in the Glaciers. You're getting water from different localities, out of the ground, and sent through a charcoal filter. Did you also know that the stipulations for detracting this water from the areas they basically STEAL it form is free to the companies? that's right--COMPLETELY FREE! No ONe owns it so Nestle can go in, set up a drill, and take whatever they want. When Maine was on high alert for water usage and townspeople people were warned to cut back for the shortage-- Nestle was still trucking in and taking just as much out of the ground as always. Never slowed a bit. THey don't pay taxes, land fees, NOTHING!! They pollute the air with constant trucking, loud noise, traffic in and out, then STEAL the water right from under the states' feet, bottle it, and sell it right back to the same people they stole it from. Here's what I'm curious about--WHO conducted this research and why? Am I stupid enough to believe that some random Wall Street researchers are concerned for my health??? absolutely not! Do I think that possible demographics were done--finding that Riverside may be an area that sells less bottled water (possibly because of area poverty levels), so these 3 greedy companies may have started some HYPE and FEAR into residents in order to push their product?? possibly. Let's see WHO was BEHIND the study--that's what I'd like to know. I confess--even knowing all this, I still drink bottled water. I've changed some things--and am investing in a Brita like set up. Only I want to see results of that first. This al started for me about 2 weeks ago when I learned all this. What scares me more than the water is the BPA in the bottles! Especially the 5 gallon bottles that I WILL never drink from again. Talk about toxins! Anyway-- there's plenty of stuff to read on the net, videos, etc and everyone SHOULD look into the whole BOTTLE WATER FARSE for themselves. Bottom line--bottled companies have one agenda and one job to do--to sell us their water and keep us from drinking tap, thereby making money. is that right??? *don't be a puppet*
southernbelle February 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM
*disclaimer* I have professor perfectionist and his red pen after me to site "perfect" resources that meet HIS approval--so I wanted to disclaim. DOn't take my word for this, do your own damn homework. I'm simply "gossiping" about the water bottle industry and what "i've heard, seen, listened to in video, looked up for myself." I'm not interested in having a job at the Patch and researching hours of sources to prove every little thing I say. I'm CONVERSING, take it for what it is. Don't like my conversing--don't read my comments. Bottom line-we all need to stop being idiots and puppets on a string, thinking that these money mongers have our best interests at heart. It's the American lie--American is a greedy place, and large corps just want your money to stay in business. ask questions. simple.
Jeff Kleiner February 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM
southernbelle, non of us are experts in every area of life and the world. Even though Newman comments on every Patch article, he knows very little about anything. He didn't even understand that Social Security is an Entitlement, even though the US Federal Government calls it one. We all just have opinions........some are informed and some are clearly driven by a person's ideology. I enjoy your comments whether I agree or not, I can only learn by listening to others.
Jeff Kleiner February 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM
I also agree about Alek.....its easy to see, for the most part he disagrees with everything. Sounds very unhappy......another amazing day.......off to Seaport Village to have lunch and sit on the seawall people watching.
southernbelle February 14, 2014 at 12:58 PM
@Jeff--if you're still here you MUST eat at the little family owned GREEK cafe there on the boardwalk, if you don't already have your own place to go!! Our family favorite!! DELICIOUS!!!
One Voice February 14, 2014 at 01:18 PM
Lake Elsinore is full of stores that sell water, on any given day in front of our markets and drug stores there are people there with huge containers buying water. Hmmmm. One of our own City council members during a meeting several years ago told everyone, "drink milk, or anything else, but don't drink the water in Lake Elsinore"! I have never drank tap water while living here, you can smell it when you shower, it smells like ammonia and chlorine, if they have to dose the water that heavy that we can smell it, I'd say there is definitely something wrong with tap water. Now when is EVMWD going to stop raping us with water rations and high fee's????????????
Andy February 14, 2014 at 01:42 PM
"Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) purchases about 75 percent of its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD adjusts the natural fluoride level in the water by adding fluoride to a level considered “optimal” by health experts to reduce and control tooth decay." And this is why I don't drink the tap water. Sodium fluoride is NOT natural (unlike calcium fluoride, which is far less toxic), and a synthetic industrial waste byproduct added to our water, and rots your mind and body and contributes to all sorts of illnesses, including cancer. I'll drink the tap when they stop adding fluoride and drugging my water. At the end of the day, all I want is H2O.
One Voice February 14, 2014 at 01:53 PM
Fluoride, I forgot that nasty additive...........yuck! Another reason to NOT drink the water!
southernbelle February 14, 2014 at 02:50 PM
agree about the fluoride!
Steve Newman February 14, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Alek- you don't like americans- then why are you here- for the freebies like Kleiner. Leave your central Murrieta home off Los Alamos- you won't be missed.
Steve Newman February 14, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Kleienr-who got you out of jail for today- I do not say I know everything- that is your dubious claim to fame. And if you pay into something and get a return on it- it is not an entitlement. But you say the govt says it is- let's all stand in line to believe the govt. Like you can keep your insurance- period. The NSA is not recording phone calls only numbers- and yes it started under Bush, but Obama has turned it against his own people- and Mr Pen and Phone is destroying this country and you are too stupid to see it. And how about the 9th District ruling on concealed permits now all the people that hate you can carry legally, not just me.
Cyclist February 14, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Dear EMWD, why would EWG lie about this? You have a lot to gain by claiming the water is safe and saying their study is a lie. Can you post the letters/emails where EWG say they lied?
Michael Keegan February 14, 2014 at 10:11 PM
According to Purdex, EMWD scored 650 on the Purdex water score scale out of a possible 1,000. This puts them in the Good category. They are certainly not the worst water system in the state of California. In fact, they ranked 28th out of 68 similar sized systems. Also, the state average of all Purdex scores in CA was only 586 - putting EMWD ahead of many others in the state - keep up the great work EMWD!! Check out the water score for any other water system at Purdex.com.
Alek J Hidell February 15, 2014 at 01:35 AM
650 on the Purex scale. no wonder my water smells like bleach.
Michael Keegan February 15, 2014 at 09:09 AM
In that case, you may be interested to learn a bit more about your water. Here's a link to the Purdex Score detail for EMWD. You'll also notice a tab called Filter Finder which recommends water filters that are most suitable for EMWDs particular water contaminant profile. I hope it helps as there's nothing worse than foul tasting water! http://purdex.com/System_Score.aspx?PWSID=ByPh9MabuuJs5c%200aRGoXw==
TVSteve February 15, 2014 at 03:08 PM
Alek Hidell was Lee Harvey Oswalds alias. Makes perfect sense now. Either way, the water does suck out here and you'd think in today's world they'd get it better. But that would just bring more "Okies" as Lee Harvey would say.
Megan Locke February 16, 2014 at 01:25 AM
If any homeowner is interested in a FREE water test please email Ben Meredith at watertestingguy@gmail.com to set up your appointment. See how truly bad your home and drinking water is (yes even bottled water has chemicals and chlorine in it) and Learn how you too can have CLEAN water running through your home!
Allen G February 16, 2014 at 03:08 AM
this is bad news bears. consider this... our bodies are 70% water.
aristotle March 13, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Patch is the accomplice to the admittedly erroneous report of "bad water" in that the headline reads: "Local Drinking Water Named ... Worst in Nation". It should have read: Environmental Advocacy Group Issues Erroneous Report on Water Quality". Patch does a disservice to the water consumers of Riverside County when it doesn't accept the "legally-required" test results of our water quality which is as good as and maybe better than bottled water. I have the EWG (Environmental Working Group) IRS filing available for Patch if they are interested.

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