Val Verde resident submits tested water results

Valencia High senior Gavin Tate submitted his findings to county officials after testing a local aquifer. Austin Dave/The Signal

Val Verde resident Gavin Tate, a senior at Valencia High School, tested the tap water delivered by Los Angeles County Waterworks District 36 and was not happy with what he found.

He was so unhappy that he shared his water test results Monday night with members of the SCV Water Agency board during their meeting to decide on a representative for Waterworks District 36 — and the board assured him that the water is, in fact, safe to drink.

Tate, 18, listed a number of contaminants found in the tap water he tested including: arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, lead, mercury, uranium, aluminum, lithium, nickel, tin, barium, bismuth, rubidium, platinum, thallium, vanadium, strontium, titanium, tungsten and zirconium.

SCV Water board member BJ Atkins, after having reviewed Tate’s findings, pointed out to the more than 100 people in attendance that the contaminant levels reported were safe according to threshold limits for detectable contaminants defined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Your tap water in Val Verde is safe to drink,” Atkins said, holding up a glass of water and then taking a drink.

SCV Water Vice President Maria Gutzeit echoed assurances made by Atkins that the water meets all county, state and federal health guidelines.

“Mr. Atkins is correct,” she said.

Tate, however, held fast to his personal take on Val Verde tap water.  “I’ve tasted it. It makes me sick.”

“I have done over 15-plus preliminary tests using Test Assured heavy metal water test strips,” Tate told the board Monday night. “These tests were performed inside of residents’ homes at the kitchen faucet.”

Tate told the board that he shared his findings with L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Dec. 10, noting he “received a helpful attitude and assurance that the issue would be looked into.

“Nothing has happened since then,” he said.

A check with Barger’s office Tuesday confirmed that county officials are following up on Tate’s claims.

“Our office will circle back with him to let him know where in the process it is,” Barger spokesman Tony Bell said Tuesday.

Tate was also told Monday by Stephanie English, Barger’s representative at the meeting, that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is reviewing Tate’s findings.

“Public Health is in receipt of it,” she said, referring to Tate’s findings.

As well, SCV Water General Manager Matt Stone assured Tate, board members and meeting attendees that county officials were alerted to Tate’s findings immediately.

“This issue came up through Tate’s submittal,” Stone said Monday. “We immediately contacted Adam Ariki (spokesman for Waterworks 36 as Assistant Deputy Director for Los Angeles County Public Works.) Whether it is a quality concern or not, the process is to run it to ground. That has been done and I expect Mr. Ariki to follow through and have it investigated.”

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