San Jose residents upset to find out drinking water was contaminated

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Some Willow Glen residents upset to find out their drinking water may have had higher than normal levels of a sulfonic acid.

That is a substance used in products like carpets, clothing, and cookware.

San Jose Water sent a letter about this to about 11,000 customers explaining what the company has done to take care of the problem but some neighbors say they are not sure if what the company did enough.

More than just learning about this substance potentially being in their water, some people say what makes them most upset at San Jose Water is that they weren’t notified of the issue until months after it was discovered.

“Getting the letter and it being eight months from them discovering the problem is alarming,” one resident said.

This is just one of about 11,000 San Jose Water customers who received a notice from the water company warning of potential per-fluoro-octane sulfonic acid concentrations above the state notification level in their drinking water.

The substance, also known as PFOs, is described by San Jose Water as a man-made substance that has been synthesized for water and fat resistance and used in products like carpets clothing and cookware.

They say exposure to this substance in tap water over certain levels may result in adverse health effects including thyroid and reproductive toxicity and pancreatic and liver cancer.

“Not really knowing what the substance can do to ourselves our children our dogs is alarming,” the resident said.

The letter received by some neighbors this past weekend explains the water company began monitoring their wells in 2019 and discovered PFOs in concentrations above the notification level in six of its wells and immediately discontinued use of those wells.

The letter goes on to say that their customers are no longer receiving water with concentrations of this substance above the notification level and that their water meets all standards set by federal and state regulatory agencies but that they sent the letter: 

“In the interest of transparency to communicate out to our customers what we are doing to keep their water safe.”

“It makes me feel like I don’t know what to trust anymore how can we trust that the well has been fixed and how can we trust that our water is safe,” the resident said.

The origin of the contaminant is unknown, according to San Jose Water, but they say they are working to determine how it was introduced into the groundwater supply.

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