The Las Vegas Valley Water District just came out with its 2009 water quality report. Usually sent out by mail, this 10 page insert gives the lowdown on the quality of water in the valley. Everything from arsenic levels to hardness is measured. Some numbers may shock, however.
For example, the level of lead in drinking water comes close to reaching the maximum level allowed by the EPA. And this not from your creaky faucets and pipes but from the water district's own distribution center. Lead in water can damage the brain, kidneys and red blood cells, according to the EPA
Two chemicals used to disinfect water showed up in higher than allowable levels. Bromate and trihalmethanes are both by-products of disinfecting. This raises the question -- how much does LVVWD do to actually prevent water contamination? If there is an excess of these by-products, it looks like the city isn't doing enough to make sure businesses and households aren't polluting the water. These chemicals can cause cancer.
Trihalmethanes are a combination of four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform. When chlorine, used as a cleaning agent, interacts with organic or inorganic matter, you get the four chemicals. You also get that musty taste that's signature of Vegas tap water.
Adding to the musty flavor is water hardness, also known as calcium carbonate. And it's no wonder why -- according to the U.S. Geological Survey, Southern Nevada has some of the hardest water in the nation
. The LVVWD pamphlet says there are 318 parts per million of "water hardness." They don't go into detail about what that actually means.
The issue of water in the valley extends beyond scarcity; there are problems, too, with quality.