The Annual Water Quality Report

Sorry to abandon you over the past week, but a blogger needs his time off, too!
By now, you should have received the Annual Water Quality Report from your water provider. It is mandated that every customer receive this report each year. And I’m sure that you, like essentially every consumer, paid it no attention whatsoever, and probably immediately added it to your recycling container.
So what is this report? Several years ago, a few water quality regulators and advocates happened upon a thought: shouldn’t there be a simple means to communicate to our customers that their water supply is safe to drink? And so the idea of the AWQR was conceived.
However, federal agencies, bureaucracies, environmentalists, consumer advocates, special interest groups, and many others got involved in committees to “improve” on the idea. Instead, that fine idea mutated into the Frankenstein that we receive in the mail today. Instead of a simple post card, with a simple message like, “Your water is safe to drink,” we have a virtually unintelligible bit of nonsense. And we make the poor customers pay for it!
I was just poring through mine from the Castaic Lake Water Agency. You can look at it yourself at It’s very typical of what you can expect from your water agency. It’s not a simple line on a 3 x 5 inch post card; it is 11 x 25.5 inches, printed on both sides, in a font so small that I really have difficulty reading it. And what does it say?
I got a treatise on conservation, and all the great things CLWA is doing to promote water conservation.
And I also learned where my water comes from.
I also got a full page of fine print, trying to tell me what the heck the Greek terms in the table that covers one-third of the report are supposed to mean, plus that incredibly intimidating data table.
Mostly, I received a public relations barrage from CLWA, letting me know how great they are.
I could not find a single line in it that said that my water was safe.
So, why the picture of a camel today? You have probably heard the expression “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” The AWQR of today is nothing like the simple concept of its original intent; a “committee” happened to it, and this is what we got.

2 Responses to The Annual Water Quality Report

  1. avatar Mic says:

    being that the annual report is supposed to be out… how about persons living in a condo with shared water on a common bill? Are we supposed to get one too??? just curious, sure would like to know?

  2. avatar Steve McLean says:

    Excellent point, Mic. Only the parties that pay water bills directly will receive the AWQR. Ideally, the landlord would share this information with tenants — but I bet that never happens. People in this situation can pick up a hard copy at the local water agency, or they can access it online.

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