The Travels of a Drop of Water

Bay Delta, canals, pumps, transfers, inspections, treatment, etc.

The Bay Delta of Sacramento and San Joaquin is one of the largest resources of water in California. The total area of the Delta is 1,100 square miles which is comprised of about 60 different islands and tracts, and 700 miles of waterway. It provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including many endangered species. Water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta begins at the Sacramento River and flows south connecting to the San Joaquin River, dividing into many different smaller tributaries as it reaches the San Francisco Bay or moves further south by the State Water Project. It is a source of drinking water to 25 million Californians and generates $36 billion in the agricultural industry. 

A drop of water beginning from the Bay Delta travels hundreds of miles before it reaches the tap water in your kitchen here in southern California. Before it does, it goes through a very rigorous set of tests and inspections to ensure its safety. These tests cover water coming from every type of source. For instance, mountain spring water may contain sulfur, zinc or arsenic as it flows downstream. Groundwater may have been contaminated from industrial chemicals, septic tanks, fertilizers and metals such as arsenic and chromium. Rivers and streams sometimes carry disease-causing microorganisms from animals and humans, in addition to polluted runoff from storm drains. Although the treatment process does vary between communities and wells depending on the water quality when entering the plant, the general process includes coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection and storage. However, every ounce of water is tested equally and thoroughly, no matter the region. Because of all the tests, tap water in your kitchen may be some of the safest water to drink, even compared to bottled water. Every hour of every day routine tests are performed checking pH and disinfectant levels. Every 3 hours turbidity is tested, and every 4 hours fluoride and ammonia levels are tested.