Where CSUF’s water comes from and how it’s maintained

In News
(Andre Salazar / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton’s water supply comes from the city of Fullerton, which gets its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Orange County groundwater basin.

Seventy percent of Fullerton’s water is made up of groundwater, while the other 30 percent is imported from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said Louis Gonzales, Fullerton water quality specialist.

Orange County Water District provides for the northern two-thirds of Orange County and about 75 percent of the water in the county is from groundwater supplies from the aquifer, said Bruce Whitaker of the Orange County Water District during a meeting about the Environmental Protection Agency’s superfund list.

The supply of groundwater is made up of water from sources such as the Santa Ana River and imported water brought in from both Northern California and the Colorado River.

Water in California and in the city of Fullerton is held to standards provided by state and federal law. The Safe Drinking Water Act sets the standards for public drinking water throughout the country.

In order to keep the water clean, the Orange County Water District uses three different methods: recharging surface water, monitoring water sources and purifying unsanitary sources like wastewater.

In the recharging process, surface water is captured and slowly put back into the groundwater basin by percolation basins that naturally filter and purify the water.

In the monitoring process, the county measures the quality of the water to ensure it remains clean. Specialized labs measure water elevations and take samples to assure that the quality of the water is up to par.

Lastly, the purification process turns formerly contaminated sources into drinkable water. For this process, the Orange County Water District uses shallow ponds with vegetation that purifies the water naturally, referred to as wetlands. Additionally, a groundwater replenishment system takes wastewater and treats it to be reused as drinking water.

According to the Orange County Water District’s official website, the groundwater replenishment system began operating in January 2008 and has become the world’s largest advanced drinkable water purification system. It produces up to 100 million gallons of high quality water per day.

The city of Fullerton adds additional standards to purification laws provided by the state. It keeps water clean by utilizing groundwater wells that keep bacteria out of the water, treat it with chlorine and pipe it into neighborhoods.

The city has nine groundwater wells and has a company deliver chlorine every week, Gonzales said.

The surface water the city receives is also cleaned with chlorine but is mixed with ammonia, creating a substance known as chloramine, in order to keep the imported supply clean for a longer time, Gonzales said.

Corrective action is taken if bacteria is found in laboratory-tested water. Gonzales said they must find the source of the problem and isolate it, shutting down the entire well if the problem stems from there.

In addition to the water from the city, CSUF also has seven water retention swales throughout the campus. These swales collect water during heavy rain and help retain the quality of the storm water by removing contaminants from it before distributing the water throughout the campus.

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