Orcutt residents may have noticed a packet from Golden State Water in their mail recently.

The mailing contained the water company’s yearly quality report and detailed what consumers could expect to find in their water. But how do those numbers compare to other water agencies and what do they mean?

In its report, Golden State Water said the company spends more than a half-million dollars a year on weekly quality testing throughout its distribution system. The report also said that this year Golden State Water regularly meets all federal, state and local standards. This year was no exception, as the water provider did not show any maximum chemical load violations in their report.

One of the biggest drinking water concerns in an area with heavy agriculture production is nitrate contamination. Nitrates can be found in fertilizer, natural deposits and in certain crops that are considered to have high nitrate loading potential such as broccoli or strawberries.

The Golden State report shows an average of 19 parts per million (ppm) in Orcutt’s water. That falls well below the maximum allowed amount which is 45 ppm. Compared to a sampling of local water districts, Orcutt’s nitrate load is slightly higher. The city of Santa Maria ranked the lowest with only 5 ppm in their system. In the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Ynez River Conservation District Improvement District One (ID1) had an average nitrate level of 6 ppm in its groundwater, and the city of Solvang had an average of 12.7 ppm. Lompoc did not detect any nitrates in their most recent report.

Orcutt fared better when it came to the amount of disinfectant detected in its water supply. Golden State showed a chlorine average of 1.3 ppm, making it the lowest in the area. Santa Maria showed the highest chlorination average at 2.1 ppm. Lompoc and ID1 averaged at 1.4 ppm and 2 ppm, respectively. Solvang did not report an average. The goal for disinfectant detection is 4 ppm. Orcutt also had some of the lowest fluoride levels. Golden State’s report showed a 0.19 ppm average for fluoride. In comparison, the maximum allowed amount is 2.0 ppm. Lompoc did not detect any fluoride. ID1, Solvang and Santa Maria reported averages of 0.30 ppm, 0.32 ppm and 0.94 ppm, respectively.

Orcutt’s water system was in-step with other providers with no detections of lead or copper above actionable levels. The report did not list chromium or coliform contamination. An official with Golden State Water said this was because there were none in the last year.

Coliform was absent from every water system except Santa Maria’s, which reported a low detection rate. Chromium was not shown any of the other water systems with the exception of ID1, which reported an 8.2 parts per billion (ppb) average. The action level from chromium is 50 ppb.

brookshire@syvjournal.com