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Cryptosporidium

Frequently asked questions 

What is Cryptosporidium? 
Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite that lives and reproduces in the intestines of mammals, including humans. It gets into the water supply from the fecal material of infected mammals. Research indicates that Cryptosporidium is present in 95 percent of all surface water sources in America.

Cryptosporidiosis, sometimes called "crypto," is the sickness that cryptosporidium causes. The symptoms include diarrhea, headache, fever, cramping and nausea. Generally, people with a strong immune system will show symptoms for 10 to 15 days without treatment.

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What are the Cryptosporidium levels in the water the district provides? 
The Santa Clara Valley Water District has never found measurable levels of Cryptosporidium in its treated water.

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I have an immune system deficiency. Should I stop drinking tap water?  
While the Santa Clara Valley Water District has never found measurable amounts of Cryptosporidium in our treated water, we recommend that you discuss this issue with your physician.

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What do you do to get Cryptosporidium out of the water? 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guides us in our efforts to detect and remove Cryptosporidium with filters. EPA has specific rules which include removal requirements for Cryptosporidium and gives us more stringent standards to follow when we assess how our treatment process is doing at removing the microbe.

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Is the water safe for the general public to drink?  
Yes, the water is safe for the general population to drink. If you have a medical condition that suppresses your immune system (like HIV infection), or if you are worried about the quality of your tap water, you can consult your doctor for recommendations or follow the advice given above.

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For information on home water treatment devices: 

  • California Department of Health Services, (916) 323-6111
  • Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet, "Filtration Facts" listed on the right.
  • The National Sanitation Foundation, an organization that tests and certifies home water treatment units, at (800) 673-8010
  • The Water Quality Association, an organization that classifies units according to the contaminants they are designed to remove, at (800) 749-0234

For information on bottled water regulations and quality:

  • Preventing Cryptosporidiosis:
    U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Wayland Ho, Food and Drug Investigator, California Department of Health Services, Food and Drug Branch, 100 Paseo de San Antonio, Room 304, San Jose, CA 95113
  • International Bottled Water Association, 113 North Henry Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314, (703) 683-5213

For more information about your water quality, contact Senior Water Quality Engineer Angela Cheung at (408) 265-2607, ext. 2735.