The SFPUC’s Water Quality Division (WQD) regularly collects and tests water samples from reservoirs and designated sampling points throughout the system to ensure the water delivered to you meets or exceeds federal and state drinking water standards. In 2015, WQD staff conducted more than 47,500 drinking water tests in the transmission and distribution systems. This is in addition to the extensive treatment process control monitoring performed by our certified operators and online instruments.
Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the USEPA and SWRCB prescribe regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. SWRCB regulations also establish limits for contaminants in bottled water that provide the same protection for public health.
Drinking Water Sources and Treatment
Supplied by the San Francisco Regional Water System (SFRWS) – which is owned and operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) – our major water source originates from spring snowmelt flowing down the Tuolumne River to storage in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The pristine, well protected Sierra water source is exempt from filtration requirements by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (SWRCB). Water treatment provided by the SFRWS, inclding disinfection by ultraviolet light and chlorine, corrosion control by adjustment of the water pH value, fluoridation for dental health protection, and chloramination for maintaining disinfectant residual and minimizing disinfection byproduct formation, is in place to meet the drinking water regulatory requirements.
The Hetch Hetchy water is supplemented with surface water from two local watersheds. Rainfall and runoff from the 35,000-acre Alameda Watershed in Alameda and Santa Clara counties are collected in the Calaveras and San Antonio reservoirs, and delivered to the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant (SVWTP). Rainfall and runoff from the 23,000-acre Peninsula Watershed in San Mateo County are stored in the Crystal Springs, San Andreas, and Pilarcitos reservoirs, and delivered to the Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant. Beginning in 2015, the SWRCB approved the SFRWS to use surface water collected in Lake Eleanor, Lake Cherry, Early Intake Reservoir and conveyed via the Lower Cherry Aqueduct, and the associated creeks (collectively known as Upcountry Non-Hetch Hetchy Sources, or UNHHS) as an additional drinking water source. The UNHHS water will be treated at the SVWTP prior to service to customers. Water at the two treatment plants is subject to filtration, disinfection, fluoridation, and pH adjustment for corrosion control optimization.
As in the past, the Hetch Hetchy Watershed provided the majority of our total water supply, with the remainder contributed by the two local watersheds in 2015.
Special Health Needs
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons, such as those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly people, and infants, can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. USEPA/Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the USEPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800.426.4791 or at www.epa.gov/safewater.
Consumer Confidence Report
Water quality results are published annually in the MPWD Consumer Confidence Reports.