On the surface of water filters and kitchen appliances all around Davis, a chalky grey substance can be seen seemingly growing from wherever the cities tap water flows. Some Davis High students, rightfully curious about what the mystery matter might be, are concerned and for that reason prefer not to drink it; while others disregard it as something they are accustomed to after living in Davis for a number of years.
Gary Wells, the City of Davis Water Operations Manager, says that the material we see sticking to faucets and shower heads is a buildup of minerals found in the water.
“The biggest complaint we have is the hardness of Davis’ tap water, which is the calcium deposits we see stuck to fixtures,” Wells said.
Some people are not bothered by the calcium build up, and seem not to notice anything wrong with the waters taste.
“To me it really doesn’t taste bad, it just tastes like water,” said junior Chris Marelich.
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, some places in California are known to have high nitrate contamination levels in their water, which can be extremely dangerous at high levels. This contamination generally comes from poor septic systems, confined animal feeding operations, or fertilizer use that leaks into groundwater, which, until the completion of the Davis Woodland Water Supply Project, is where the city gets the majority of its water.
Wells however says this is not an issue for Davis’ water supply.
“Some wells throughout the state are high in nitrate, when this occurs, the well needs to be shut down. It’s a growing problem in California, but all the water systems are regulated and have maximum contaminant levels which they can reach. As long as the system is below that level, the water is fine health wise,” Wells said.
Even if nitrates are not a problem in Davis, the calcium levels do still pose small health risks for organisms other than humans.
Junior Matthew Rowen, an avid fish breeder who works at the local aquarium store Rivers to Reef, says that fish and other aquatic creatures can be seriously impaired by the tap water in Davis if it is not filtered and cured very carefully.
“Of course different types of fish are affected differently, but if it’s not filtered properly big algae outbreaks or bacteria growth can happen which can hurt the fish or corals,” Rowen said.
Even if health risks are nonexistent to humans, 92% of DHS students say they choose not to drink the tap water for a variety of reason, one if which being because they find the taste unpleasant. Most of these students therefore choose to drink from bottles or filters instead.
Marelich however, disagrees with this practice. “There’s no need to waste a plastic bottle, it all tastes the same.”
According to Wells, the reason for this discrepancy is simple. “Taste is subjective,” he said. “Some like the taste of the tap water, others don’t.”