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drinking WATER QUALITY FAQS

Is my drinking water safe to drink?
Your water meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards.  We are always working 24/7 to monitor your water for safety and water quality. Check our Consumer Confidence Report or refer to the water quality data portal for more information.  

Why does my water taste or smell different during different times of year?
A common summer occurrence in the City of Sacramento is an earthy or musty taste and odor in our drinking water. Geosmin and Methyl-Isoborneol (MIB) are naturally occurring compounds that are responsible for this strong earthy taste. Our treatment process neutralizes the bacteria responsible for creating these compounds, but does not remove the compounds themselves. While the taste and odor can be unpleasant, geosmin and MIB are not toxic or harmful. Chilling your water or adding lemon is known to help diminish the musty or earthy taste.

Why is my water sometimes cloudy?

Typically, dissolved oxygen or air bubbles in your water can cause cloudy-looking water. There is no health risk.  Let your water sit so the air bubbles dissipate. 

Why does my water have a chlorine taste or smell? 
We use chlorine to neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and parasites during our treatment process, and also to ensure the water has a low level of chlorine known as a "residual” in order to safeguard against pathogens as the water travels to your home.Chlorine levels are monitored 365 days per year.

Perception of chlorine taste or odor can vary from person to person. It is also based on factors such as changes in source water or temperature. Chlorine taste and odor can be reduced by filling a pitcher with water as the chlorine will dissipate once the water comes out of your tap. You can also put the pitcher in the refrigerator since chlorine taste and odor is less pronounced in chilled water.

How do I know if there is something wrong with my water?
We immediately issue drinking water advisories in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act if we have any concerns about the safety of your water. We issue four types of advisories depending on the scenario:

  • Informational: Informs you about any anticipated changes in water quality and any recommended actions
  • Boil water: We typically issue a boil water advisory as a precautionary step if we believe there is potential threat to the safety or quality of your water
  • Do not drink: This type of advisory is issued when the water remains safe for other uses, such as bathing, but is not safe to drink or prepare food with, even after boiling
  • Do not use: While these advisories are rare, this type of advisory demands all customers to stop use of their tap water for any purpose

We will distribute a drinking water advisory through various communications channels to ensure we reach our customers. These include television, print and radio media, social media, door hangers, our website, automated messages and other methods of communication. 

How often is the water I drink tested?
We test your water hundreds of times per week to ensure it meets or exceeds state and federal drinking water standards. See our water quality portal for an update on frequently tested constituents. 

Lead FAQs

What is lead and how are we exposed to it?
Lead is a common, naturally occurring metal found throughout the environment. Lead seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes, and lead is rarely present in water coming from a treatment plant. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of corrosion or wearing away of materials in the water distribution system and household plumbing that contain lead. Despite concerns about drinking water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that “the greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips or dust.”

What should I know about lead in drinking water?
If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. City of Sacramento Department of Utilities is responsible for providing high quality drinking water but cannot control the variety of materials used in home plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure from your home plumbing by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for cooking or drinking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or on the EPA lead information website.

Should customers be worried about lead poisoning?
Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials associated with lead in water distribution pipes and home plumbing. There are no issues in the City’s distribution system at this time as indicated by test results. Additionally, the City maintains a corrosion control program to reduce lead leaching. Lead should not be a concern in homes and buildings that do not have lead in their plumbing system, or where lead components have been replaced. Still, some homes and buildings in our service area may have lead pipes, soldered joints, or fixtures containing lead. It is possible that lead levels at your home may be higher than at other homes in the community as a result of materials used in your home’s plumbing. We recommend that customers with concerns have their water tested at a certified lab.

How does the city test for lead?
The City collects water samples from homeowners’ taps every three years as required by federal and state law. Participants are chosen based on their homes’ year of construction, taking into consideration the possibility of lead within the structures’ pipelines. Those test results have always shown the City to be in compliance with federal and state laws. The City does not offer testing services for lead unless a customer is part of the water quality testing program required by state and federal law.

What can I do to test my home for lead?

If you are concerned about the possibility of elevated lead levels in your home’s water, you may wish to have your water tested. We recommend using a lab certified by the state Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP). For more information, contact the State Water Resources Control Board at (510) 620-3475 or by email at elapca@waterboards.ca.gov.

How can I reduce lead in my drinking water?

There are other steps you can take. If your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing out the lines by running your faucet for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking (capture and reuse this water for other uses such as watering ornamental plants), and avoiding consuming water from the hot water tap, where lead, if present, is more likely. You can find more guidance at DrinkTap.

What should I do if I think I have a water quality issue?
We’re here to serve as your partner 24/7. Visit our contact us page.