Treatment for EBMUD water (east bay of San Francisco)

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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Postby duke-one » Feb 02, 2011, 3:28 pm

Hi All: I have been trying to make sense of my local water quality as I am considering getting a new machine. As I read the posts here and compare to the local water quality report it seems to me that I don't need any or much in the way of filtering. Hardness is stated as .8 to 1.8 g/gal, Calcium 3.9-8.9 mg/L, total dissolved solids 42-72mg/L
Is this good enough? I know there are other HB folk who are in the EBMUD area, what do you do with tap water for your espresso machines? EBMUD is divided into several areas depending on which filter plant feeds your area so here is a link to the local report. My water comes from the Orinda Filter Plant.
Thanks for any help, KDM

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Postby askay » Feb 02, 2011, 5:22 pm

I'm in Berkeley. All I do is run the tap water through a Brita filter; works fine.

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Postby chipman » Feb 02, 2011, 6:05 pm

If i were you I would at least buy some water test strips to check the mineral content of your water. You can find them at a pool supply or tropical fish store. You can also order from Chris if you have other things to purchase.

I live across the bay from you and my water is supposed to be clean, but even using a Brita filter I have had to use a decalcifier.

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Postby pbud » Feb 04, 2011, 12:41 am

I'm in N. Oakland and use a Brita filter too. Never had any issues. I think you'll be fine just using some type of water filter.

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Postby TomC » Jun 24, 2011, 4:46 am

Slightly old thread, but interesting topic that I've been thinking about lately. From what I've heard and read, but could be wrong, most all of our water comes from Hetch Hetchy and is generally soft enough for home coffee use. I too just use a Brita filter for my drip and espresso. I like the taste of my water.

But I'm not entirely convinced of what my Brita is bringing to the table ( so to speak) since I don't think there's a high level of heavy metals in the water anyway. And any chlorine will evaporate out of still water just by rest in an open top container. And the Brita system wont remove minerals, so the effect may be negligible.

One of my odd jobs while back in college up in Northern Ca ( Chico ) was working for Mt. Shasta Spring Water Co. There water is the best I've ever had, and I used to brew my beer with it. Great stuff. I wish it was more practical to have down here. Crystal Geyser Water is a much, much larger water company, and their water actually comes from the same glacial springs, but I'm not sold on the concept of going thru plastic bottles, and the fuel required to ship H2O, even if I were to spend the time recycling the empties.

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Postby chang00 » Jun 24, 2011, 3:22 pm

I also have EBMUD water from the Orinda station. The water is on the softer side, but this decreases scale build up. I tried various bottled water of different TDS side by side with various brewing methods, and could not tell the difference in taste (yet). There is a difference though with distilled water. Therefore I just use tap water.

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Postby erics » Jun 24, 2011, 5:45 pm

There exists some very reasonable standards for coffee brewing (and espresso) water here:

Running titration tests for water samples can be a PITA but there exists high quality test strips from a reputable manufacturer here: . If the link messes up, it is McMaster-Carr p/n 11235T47 .

This is a very inexpensive investment which will pay tremendous dividends in prolonging the inevitable(?) chore of descaling and simply keeping your espresso machine healthy and your espresso drink production top-notch.

Eric S.
E-mail: erics at erols dot com

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Postby CrayonShinchan » Jul 04, 2011, 4:40 pm

TomC wrote:And the Brita system wont remove minerals, so the effect may be negligible.

My understanding is that the Brita does remove minerals (hardness), but not fully, and that the effect is only applicable to a filter that's no older than 3 weeks, per Chris Coffee.

I found this on Brita UK's FAQ (by Googling "does Brita remove minerals?")

The BRITA water filter cartridge only partially removes the hardness from drinking water. This part is temporary hardness, which causes scale deposits during cooking. It does not remove all of the minerals from the water. It reduces the concentration of calcium and magnesium with cation ion exchange resins, but theses substances are not completely removed as in desalination systems or industrial plants that use reverse osmosis or distillation processes, for example.

In any case, I popped in here because I live in El Cerrito and get water from the Orinda plant. I will do some testing but it seems that I don't need to soften the water at all.

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Postby CrayonShinchan » Jul 07, 2011, 12:17 pm

A rep from EBMUD called me as I put in an inquiry about YTD water quality in El Cerrito and he told me that during the summer months, my house would get a blend of Orinda and El Sobrante water.

Currently, just the El Sobrante water is 85 mg/L hardness and 238 mg/L TDS (total dissolved solids), so I'm still within SCAA's acceptable range.

In any case, this is something to consider for those thinking that the water quality posted on the annual report is the water quality throughout the year. Not the case.

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Postby Jeff » Jul 07, 2011, 2:16 pm

Another limitation of the Brita approach is it does nothing about Chloramine, which EBMUD uses.

Very few filters are rated for Chloramine reduction.

Charlie of Your Water Company here in the Bay Area is one of the few vendors that I know of that deal with it. He's a bit of a fanatic (if he made espresso he'd have a Scace, pressure- and thermo-loggers, a 0.01 g scale, 27 filter baskets,...) and we've been very happy with the results over the years. We have the five-filter under-sink set up and Charlie stops by every six months to disassemble, clean, and replace the filters at what I consider a very reasonable price.

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