Periodically the local media participates with the local water districts in a carefully orchestrated game of misdirection designed to calm the public's fears about deteriorating drinking water conditions.

Last month's(June, 1993) big spread on drinking water quality as reported in the San Jose Mercury News was another example of the big media and the water districts attempting to distract the public's attention from the absolutely horrible tasting water conditions which are spreading throughout the Santa Clara Valley(California) water systems.

Before the Mercury News and the water districts go into orbit over that statement, let's present some facts for your consideration. First---according to their official "findings" and "taste tests", San Jose's water ranks second in the state in terms of good, wholesome tasting water.

If that's really true, then Alhambra, Black Mountain, Sierra, Arrowhead, Aqua Technology and dozens of other bottled water vendors as well as hundreds of carbonated waters in grocery stores are merely a mirage on the supermarket shelves. These companies should pack their bags and head for another, more lucrative marketplace.

If the San Jose tap water is so good tasting as the Mercury News reports, why are all these bottled water companies, vending machines, water stores and other water vendors doing doing a land office business by placing alternate drinking water in virtually every major business office and over 40 percent of individual homes in the valley?

Are we to believe that individuals and companies who spend hundreds and in some case thousands of dollars per year on delivered bottled water and home water purifiers are doing this simply because they have extra money to throw away?

People buy water, home filters and purifiers because the water tastes bad---and the Santa Clara valley, by any yardstick, is one of the biggest markets for water and purifiers in the United States.

Taking a closer look at this Mercury News report we find that for their "official San Jose taste test", the water gurus cleverly chose a sample from the downtown area. This area is served by local wells and is not typical of what is being served up in kitchens across the valley.

Had the tasters chosen some water from the east side, Blossom Valley, the Willow Glen, Rose Garden or Cambrian Park area or even Almaden, the results would probably have been similar to the Goletta/Santa Barbara, CA. water test where the taste was so bad the participants spit the water out during the taste test.

Talking with people from the Goletta and Santa Barbara area we find that the water in that area is normally quite good. What is causing the poor quality water is the extreme drought and the low level of water in their local drinking water reservoirs.

Stacking the deck with misleading information such as this to act as a backdrop for San Jose's reportedly excellent drinking water conditions does not give the readership confidence that the report is objective and evenhanded in it's comparison criteria.

Are we being too hard on the water people? I think not. They are most certainly aware of the problems we have with our local water---both in taste and quality. They are simply not willing to risk a public outcry if they open the door to reality in water quality just a crack.

For example. During the drought of 1976-77, the water districts kept a tight lip during the drought season. Not a word was said about the extremely high levels of sodium and chloroform in the Valley's drinking water.

Meanwhile, heart patients and pregnant mothers continued to drink water with copious amounts of sodium and chloroform, a known cancer causing agent.

Only after the first, heavy rains in January did the water people step forward and say.

"...thank goodness, with the rain the chloroform and sodium levels are now down to acceptable levels(if one believes there is a "acceptable" amount of cancer-causing chloroform for an expectant mother, or a "normal" amount of sodium for individuals on strict, sodium-free diets) ".

This type of "ex post facto" public relations activity is not acceptable in most areas of the country---why do we put up with it here?

The public certainly deserves more from a group who extracted millions of dollars in water use fines last year, slipped those bags of coins into the local bank, collected interest and then refused to refund those funds, or the interest collected, to their water customers.

Actually, it's only a very few decision makers at the top who are responsible for this carefully orchestrated public relations program. You will never reach them through the public information officers who handle consumer complaints. In fact, we have found that these fine public information officers aren't even aware of many of their water companies own problems.











































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