News Releases

WQA responds to California Wildfires
5 things people affected by fires need to know about their drinking water

LISLE, Ill. – The Water Quality Association today said that the devastating wildfires in northern California pose a threat to drinking water for people affected by the fires, but that there are precautions that can be taken to protect residents in the affected areas.

“Large fires like these can affect drinking water supplies, especially for those on private wells,” said WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser. “Our main concern is for possible drinking water contamination as a result of either the fires themselves, or the chemicals used to fight the fires.”

Five things to know

  1. WQA recommends residents directly affected by the fires use bottled water for drinking and cooking until they’re able to confirm that their tap water is safe. The safety of a home’s water supply, both private or municipal, may be affected if there are power outages. In areas experiencing any building damage or loss due to fire, municipal water systems may experience instances of pressure loss or water main breaks due to this building damage.  Again, bottled water is recommended until the distribution system is repaired.
  2. Well owners affected by the fires are encouraged to test their systems and seek appropriate remedies as soon as possible. During and after the fires, water tables may become contaminated with debris from the fires, from chemicals used to fight the fires, or from the products which were destroyed by fire.
  3. Be alert for local boil water orders. If there are disruptions to a municipal source, officials may issue boil water orders in many communities. A WQA guide to boil water order notices can be found here.
  4. Once the danger of fire has been lifted, existing water treatment equipment should be inspected and serviced for possible contamination or flow/pressure loss.
  5. Residents should consider treating their water either with a whole house system or at the tap treatment with a certified water treatment product depending upon the results of a water test. To have your water tested contact a water treatment specialist or state certified lab (https://lams.nelac-institute.org/Search).

WQA offers training and certification for professionals who can conduct testing and recommend appropriate remedies for specific contamination issues. WQA tests products for effectiveness, offering Gold Seal certification to those that meet independently established standards. To find a local water treatment professional or certified professional who can help choose the most effective products, visit wqa.org.

WQA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. Since 1959, the WQA Gold Seal certification program has been certifying products that contribute to the safe consumption of water. The WQA Gold Seal program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).

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