Making Sure Your Water Meets Drinking Water Standards
The Oro Valley Water Utility is responsible for ensuring that the water is safe, clean, and meets all local, State, and Federal drinking water health standards.
Drinking Water Rules Overview
The federal government authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to set drinking water standards to protect the drinking water supply. This is accomplished by limiting the levels of certain chemicals or microorganisms that can adversely affect public health and are likely to be present in the water. The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) and Action Level (AL) are the health standards established by the USEPA that public water systems, such as the Oro Valley Water Utility, must meet to ensure safe drinking water. The MCL or AL is the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water.
Once EPA develops a new standard, the rule is sent to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to adopt and build upon drinking water standards based on Arizona laws and rules. In Arizona, ADEQ has primacy for drinking water rules and programs. This means the USEPA has granted ADEQ the right and responsibility to oversee these programs. Under the ADEQ Primacy agreement, Federal drinking water rules are incorporated into the Arizona Administrative Code where they then become enforceable by the state.
While ADEQ adopts, builds upon, and enforces drinking water standards, local governments and private water suppliers, like the Oro Valley Water Utility, have direct responsibility for the quality of the water that flows to your tap. The Oro Valley Water Utility tests the water provided to customers, maintains the distribution systems that deliver water, and reports on water quality to the state. ADEQ provides technical assistance to water suppliers and can take legal action against systems that fail to provide water that meets these standards.
How often are Oro Valley Water sources tested to comply with the Drinking Water Regulations?
Monitoring requirements, including the frequencies and locations, are specified within the drinking water regulations. In general, monitoring is required throughout the water delivery system. Water samples are taken at representative location in the distribution system, at private residences, and at the Entry-Point-to-the-Distribution-System (EPDS).
The monitoring frequencies are dependent on the results of the previous sampling events. More frequent monitoring is implemented when a level approaches the MCL in order to make the necessary adjustments to prevent an MCL exceedance, including shutting the well down. With ADEQ approval, a monitoring reduction is used when a contaminant is not detected over specified time period.
How will I know if a contaminant is found in my water?
Every year, the Oro Valley Water Utility sends you an Annual Water Quality Report (also known as the Consumer Confidence Report, or CCR). The results contained in the report are based on the compliance data that was collected from the previous year to comply with the Drinking Water Rules.
ADEQ requires that the Oro Valley Water Utility give public notice should our water supply violate drinking water standards. Information on how the issue is corrected will be provided to the public as well.
The Oro Valley Water Utility works to maintain the purity and quality of the Utility’s water supply. It is our responsibility to see that the drinking water meets or exceeds the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Utility staff members are happy to answer customer concerns regarding water quality. If you are experiencing cloudy or silty water, or your water has developed an unusual odor or taste, please call the Oro Valley Water Utility at 520-229-5000 immediately so we can investigate the situation. If the problem is easily recognizable, we may provide advice by phone. For example, water may occasionally become discolored due to water main breaks, fire suppression that uses a high volume of water, or other problems in the system. If the problem appears more serious, or cannot be solved by phone, a representative from the Water Quality section will visit your home to learn more about the problem and help determine a solution. For more information, or to speak with a water quality staff member about your water, please contact the Oro Valley Water Utility at 520-229-5000.
Why is the cold water coming out warm or hot?
This is a very common occurrence during the summer months. Water pipes acclimate to the temperature around them, and when our temperatures rise in the summer, water pipes will absorb heat from the ground around them causing the water's temperature to increase. The water may never be totally cold in the summertime as a result of the high temperatures.
Why does my water smell and taste like chlorine?
Chlorine is added to water in small amounts for disinfection. Like other water providers, Oro Valley Water Utility is required to maintain a detectable disinfectant residual in the distribution system to protect the public water system. Higher temperatures in the summer months can cause a more distinct chlorine taste and smell in the water.
Why is my water white when it first comes out of the tap?
This is most often caused by very tiny air bubbles in the water which will typically clear up after a few minutes as the air escapes to the atmosphere. The air is not harmful to health or plumbing. One option is to keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator which allows time for the air bubbles to clear.
What is the difference between water hardness and salinity?
Water hardness is the measure of calcium and magnesium, while salinity is the measure of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
What is the specific water hardness in my neighborhood?
Water hardness in the Oro Valley Water Utility service area ranges from 36 ppm to 270 ppm. Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, both calcium and magnesium. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves small amounts of these naturally occurring minerals and carries them into the groundwater supply.
Hardness does not pose a health risk and is not regulated by state or federal agencies. In fact, calcium and magnesium in your drinking water can help ensure you get the average daily requirements for these minerals in your diet.
Hard water can interfere with daily cleaning tasks such as laundry, washing dishes and taking a shower. Clothes can look dingy and feel rough and scratchy. Dishes and glasses can be left with water spots, and a residual film may build up on shower doors, bathtubs, sinks and faucets. Hard water may be treated by adding a water softener to laundry and into the dishwasher, or by installing an ion-exchange system to treat all of your household water. Ion exchange can increase the sodium content of the water, which may pose health concerns for your household.
The following classifications are used to measure hardness in water:
- Soft 0 to 60 parts per million
- Moderately Hard 61 to 120 parts per million
- Hard 121 to 180 parts per million
- Very Hard more than 180 parts per million
You can convert hardness levels in parts per million to hardness in grains per gallon, by dividing the hardness level by 17.1. [KS1] To obtain the water hardness level in your neighborhood, please call Oro Valley Water Utility at 520-229-5000
What is a consumer confidence report (CCR)?
A CCR is required by the Safe Drinking Water Act to be prepared each year for public water systems. This report provides information on water sources, levels of detected contaminants, and shows compliance with drinking water rules. These reports are posted on the Oro Valley Water Utility website. A post card is mailed to all customers before the end of July each year letting customers know that the latest report is available on the website.
Does my home need a water treatment system?
No. Oro Valley Water Utility strives to provide a safe and reliable water supply that meets all federal and state regulations. Adding a water treatment system to your home is a personal preference.
Should you choose to add a water treatment system, it is important to follow manufacturer's specifications on cleaning and maintenance to avoid any potential water quality problems that may be caused by lack of maintenance or improper cleaning.
Is fluoride added to the water?
No. Oro Valley Water Utility does not add fluoride to the drinking water system. Some naturally occurring fluoride may be present due to the minerals in the aquifer.
What is the purpose of flushing fire hydrants? Isn't that wasting water?
It’s necessary to flush fire hydrants to maintain water quality. High velocity water helps clean and scour the interior of the pipes. It flushes accumulated sediments out of the system, removes stale water and restores chlorine residual. It also ensures the operability of the fire protection system.
What does it mean when water appears blue?
Copper plumbing may cause bluish colored water. When water stands in copper pipe, the water may absorb some of the copper, making it appear blue. This is most common when the pipe is new. This is not harmful to health or plumbing and should gradually disappear over several months.
What is the pink growth on my bathroom fixtures?
The pink growth or stain on bathroom fixtures is the result of a mold or a bacterium, specifically, Serratia marcescens. The mold is present in the air. Mold and bacteria grow wherever there is a warm, moist or humid environment, like a tub or showerhead. Regular cleaning with bleach or a cleaner that removes mildew will clear the mold. Wipe away standing water to reduce growth.
There is a complex and extensive framework in place to ensure clean, safe drinking water is served by every public water system in Arizona. Protection of drinking water quality starts with an assessment of the drinking water source quality and continues through regulations that govern water system design and construction. Finally, drinking water quality is assured through scheduled tests required of all public water systems for a wide variety of potential contaminants. As a result of these regulations and continued testing, drinking water supplies in the United States are among the cleanest and safest in the world.
The Water Utility operates two potable water systems. The Oro Valley Water Service Area (OVWSA) that has a Public Water System Number of AZ0410164. It also operates a potable system that is not located within the Town boundaries, known as the Countryside Water Service Area (CSWSA) that has a Public Water System Number of AZ0410175.
Over the course of a year the Utility collects hundreds of water samples from approximately 15 Entry-Point-to-the-Distribution-System (EPDS). These sites include groundwater wells, reservoirs and pumping stations. The Utility also samples from 58 “sampling stations” located in neighborhoods throughout the water distribution system specifically selected to represent the water quality that is delivered to our customers. Lead and copper samples are taken from 50 private residences within the Oro Valley area. The Utility provides all water quality testing results to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and works closely with that agency to ensure all federal and state standards are met.
The Utility’s State certified water operators are legally responsible for the health and safety of our customers. The operators meet this responsibility by maintaining a daily vigilance over the system’s production, distribution, and water quality. All our Operators are licensed and attend continuing education and training through Personal Development Hours required by ADEQ. This also benefits our community and adds value to the Water Utility. Additionally, comprehensive emergency plans have been developed to ensure an immediate response to any adverse water situation. The Town’s water system is in full compliance with all State and Federal regulations.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality functions as the local management and enforcement arm of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and is responsible for ensuring the State of Arizona complies with all Federal water, air, and environmental regulations. Oro Valley Water Utility works with ADEQ to ensure the water we deliver meets all State and Federal standards for health and safety.
Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS)
The Arizona Department of Health Services State Laboratory assists in protecting the health of Arizonans by providing a full range of Public Health Laboratory services, including identifying and investigating infectious and communicable diseases. The Laboratory monitors both groundwater and surface water for the presence of chemical and microbiological pollutants. The Department also maintains a laboratory licensure and consultation program that assures the quality of analytical testing being done by the clinical and environmental laboratory communities of Arizona.
Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR)
The Arizona Department of Water Resources works to secure long-term water supplies for Arizona’s communities. The Department administers state water laws (except those related to water quality), explores methods of augmenting water supplies to meet future demands, and develops policies that promote conservation and equitable distribution of water. Also, the Department oversees the use of surface and groundwater resources under state jurisdiction and negotiates with external political entities to protect Arizona’s Colorado River water supply. Other responsibilities include management of floodplains and non-federal dams to reduce loss of life and damage to property. ADWR is not a municipal water provider.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is charged with protecting the environment and the health and safety of people by establishing standards for the use of many naturally-occurring and man-made compounds and resources. As a part of this effort, the agency is charged with regulating drinking water quality in the United States. They accomplish this through investigating the possible health effects of many naturally occurring and man-made compounds and regulating those which are shown to impact human health or the environment. For water systems, these regulations are developed as part of the Code of Federal Regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act and its amendments. In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality functions as the local agency responsible for ensuring all water utilities comply with these regulations.