Water Quality

Your Tap Water

What You Need to Know about the Quality of Your Tap Water

Your drinking water must meet very strict federal and state health and safety standards. California’s requirements for the quality of tap water are some of the most stringent in the nation. All imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River is filtered, cleaned and disinfected before use. Thousands of water quality samples are taken every year and analyzed by government certified laboratories to ensure tap water meets California’s very demanding water quality requirements. The standards for tap water are set by health, medical and scientific experts who take public health and safety very serious.

What Do Experts Say About Our Tap Water

Experts outside the water industry provide their opinions about the safety of tap water: David Ropeik and George Gray of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis wrote a book entitled, “Risk – A Practical Guide for Deciding What’s Really Safe and What’s Really Dangerous in the World Around You.” In the section on water, the book states, “Strict safety standards have made the water supply system in the United States one of the safest in the world.” Dr. James M. Symons, has written two books on drinking water, his latest is the “Plain Talk about Drinking Water” (Fifth Edition). In addition to being an author, Dr. Symons is Professor Emeritus form the University of Houston. When Dr. Symons was asked if he drank tap water, he responded: “Yes, without reservation.” Dr. Timothy Ford, Head Microbiology Department, Montana State University, “Tap water is far better regulated and treated than bottled water.” The University of Berkeley Wellness Newsletter says; “…tap water is an excellent source of drinking water; tap water has more stringent water quality monitoring requirements than bottled water.”

How Can I Find Out About My Tap Water Quality?

Each year your local retail water provider publishes a Consumer Confidence Report in your bill or on their web site. It details the safe levels of constituents that are in your water. Your local retailer is also the point of contact should you have any questions related to your home plumbing system.


  • Refrigerate – national taste tests have revealed most drinking water no matter of its source is the most enjoyable at cooler temperatures.
  • Put it in Pitcher – to remove the chlorine smell of water, allow the pitcher of water to sit a few hours in the fridge or on a counter.
  • Clean Drains – many taste and odor concerns are often a result of dirty drains or traps.
  • Check Plumbing – very old home plumbing can corrode and cause taste issues as well as health issues
  • Economics – Most highly regulated tap water only costs on average $0.02 cents per gallon which is something to enjoy!

Fast Facts on Rising Water Costs

Water is essential to our daily lives, but few people stop to consider its importance and value.  In most communities in California, water costs less than a penny per gallon at the tap.

Safe and reliable water is a true bargain considering the energy, extensive delivery system and expertise required to capture, treat and deliver water to homes and businesses in the state, day in and day out.

Depending on where you live in California, your water may come from a nearby well or river. Or it may travel hundreds of miles through canals or pipelines to reach your tap. Regardless of where it originates, your tap water is filtered, cleaned, tested and distributed in an exhaustive process that produces some of the highest quality drinking water in the nation and the world.

The cost of delivering that water to your tap has increased in recent years for several reasons. Even with these ongoing increases, California tap water remains an incredible value, especially when compared to bottled water and other everyday products.

It's also more reliable than most other products and services. Can you even remember a time when you turned on the tap and water didn't flow? Simply put, tap water is the best deal around.

What Determines the Cost of Tap Water?

Tap water is a great value. But the cost of treating and delivering it to your tap is going up. Here are some of the factors contributing to increased costs:

Rising Water Treatment Costs

California tap water meets some of the most stringent water quality standards in the nation. Producing that high-quality water requires significant investments in treatment technologies.

In addition, new drinking water regulations continue to be established as technology allows for detection of contaminants at extremely small concentrations. Stringent new regulations add to the cost of providing water.

Aging Water Infrastructure

From treatment plants to pumping stations to local storage tanks to pipelines, much of the system that delivers water to Californians was built decades ago. Aging parts of that system must be upgraded, repaired and / or replaced to ensure reliable water deliveries for future residents and businesses. Capital expenses and debt service to fund those repairs and upgrades can account for a significant portion of monthly water bills.

Increasing Energy Costs

It takes a tremendous amount of electricity to pump, treat and deliver water in California. Electricity costs can account for a substantial portion of a local water agency's operating expenses. As energy costs rise, the increases directly affect the cost of delivering water to consumers.

Environmental Regulations

Environmental regulations - including endangered species requirements, wastewater discharge permits, air quality standards and many more - also add significant costs to the job of delivering water. Those costs are reflected in monthly water bills.

Costs of Developing New Water Supplies

California's population continues to grow, but our statewide water supply system has not been significantly expanded in more than three decades. Local water agencies have invested billions of dollars in local resource strategies such as water recycling, groundwater storage, conservation and other projects to stretch supplies and increase reliability. State legislation enacted in November 2009 requires water agencies to make additional investments in these programs. Monthly water bills may reflect a share of those costs.

Reduced Revenues as a Result of Conservation

Recent years have seen significant reductions in water deliveries for many parts of the state because of multiple dry years and endangered species requirements. In response, many local water agencies imposed mandatory water conservation. Though water agencies appreciate their customers' conservation efforts, they must continue to pay the fixed costs of operating their systems - regardless of the amount of water sold. For many agencies, it may be necessary to raise rates to offset revenues lost to reduced water sales.

Tap Water Remains the Best Deal Around

California's public water agencies are committed to delivering safe, reliable and affordable water to homes, businesses and farms in every corner of the state. They have been doing the job for almost 100 years.

Even though the cost of providing that water may increase in the near future, California tap water is still the best deal around.