The city of Hemet announced Thursday its tap water is safe to drink one day after residents were told not to consume it after high nitrate levels were found.
The California Department of Public Health found above-normal levels of nitrate in two of the city's six water wells on Wednesday.
The wells contained nitrate levels of 47 milligrams per liter. The state maximum is 45 milligrams. Agricultural areas like Hemet are susceptible to higher levels of nitrate in drinking water because of the presence of cattle and fertilizer.
The city, which tests the water every week, shut down both wells as soon as the problem was noticed. The wells were flushed out and retested, and the tests determined the water was safe to drink, Kris Jensen of the Hemet Water Department said Thursday.
Nitrate in drinking water is a serious health concern for infants younger than six months and pregnant women, the state department of health said in a notice delivered to impacted home and business owners.
"Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL (maximum containment level) may quickly become seriously ill and, if untreated may die because high nitrate levels can interfere with the capacity of the infant’s blood to carry oxygen," officials said.
Drinking water with high nitrate levels may also affect the oxygen-carrying ability of pregnant women.
Health department officials warn against boiling, freezing, filtering or letting water because it does not reduce nitrate levels. Boiling water can actually make nitrates more concentrated, health officials said.
According to some residents, water quality in Hemet has been a concern for years.
“When you fill up the bathtub the water is cloudy, it is not like normal water," Kim Rosendahl said. “When you do your dishes you can see that it is water that is not coming out clear from your faucets.”
Despite its appearance the health department insists that the water is safe to drink.