Water Quality

    Water QualityThe Sonoma County Water Agency provides high quality drinking water to nine cities and water districts in portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. The Water Agency ensures its drinking water is of the highest quality and meets all state and federal water quality requirements by performing daily, weekly and monthly tests. In addition to Water Agency tests, the cities and water districts which receive this water also perform individual water quality sampling and tests. Below are the links to each of the cities and water districts water quality web pages to learn more about individual testing and results:

     

    Water Quality - Frequently Asked Questions:

    Where does the Water Agency get its water from?

    The Water Agency produces water from the Russian River that is pumped from wells about 100 feet below the river bed. This system of pumping is called river bank filtration. Six groundwater wells, also known as collectors, pump the water through natural sands and gravels that act as a filtering system. The system produces high quality drinking water that does not face the water quality concerns that affect many public water systems throughout the United States. The Water Agency does not provide surface water taken directly from a river or lake to its customers. View an interactive diagram of the Water Agency's transmission system.

    How does the Water Agency keep its water clean?

    The Water Agency adds chlorine to its water supply to provide residual disinfection throughout its water transmission system. The Water Agency also adjusts the pH of its water with sodium hydroxide to address the inherent characteristics of Russian River water that tend to corrode copper plumbing. The quality of drinking water is generally considered in two ways: the presence of contaminants that might cause adverse health effects, and properties of water that affect aesthetics. Contaminants that may cause adverse health effects include inorganic and organic chemicals, and microbiological contaminants. The aesthetic qualities of drinking water include characteristics that make the water unpalatable or bothersome to customers. Examples are hardness, taste, odor, color, temperature and the tendency to discolor plumbing fixtures.

    More information on chlorine is available here.

    Does the Water Agency’s transmission system include lead pipes?

    No. The Water Agency’s wholesale water transmission system is made up of more than 100 miles of underground pipes that are made of concrete lined steel. Contact your local water supplier to learn more about distribution system (see above links).

    Why does the Water Agency adjust the water’s pH?

    Excessively high and low pHs can be detrimental for the use of water. High pH causes a bitter taste, water pipes and water-using appliances become corroded or encrusted with deposits, and it depresses the effectiveness of the disinfection of chlorine thereby causing the need for additional chlorine when pH is high. Low pH water can corrode or dissolve metals and other substances. The Water Agency monitors the level of pH in its water system on a daily basis. The pH level within the water system must achieve an average daily range of 8.2 to 8.6 for 95 percent of all daily average values. To adjust the level of pH the Water Agency uses Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), also known simply as caustic soda. Sodium Hydroxide is the most widely used alkaline neutralizing chemical in use in industry today as it is easy to handle, inexpensive, and very effective for the neutralization of strong or weak acids.

    More information on pH is available here.

    How old are the water transmission pipes?

    The Water Agency’s water transmission pipes range in age up to 50 years old. Constant monitoring and water quality testing ensures the pipes are in functional order and ongoing maintenance work is conducted to evaluate and repair leaks or damage before they occur. This type of proactive maintenance work not only reduces health risks associated with leaks, but also saves money by fixing an issue before it becomes an emergency.

    Who monitors the Water Agency’s water quality reports?

    The Water Agency operates under a water supply permit issued by the State Water Resources Control Board's Division of Drinking Water. This permit requires the Water Agency to operate and maintain its water supply system in compliance with state water law. This permit includes water quality monitoring requirements and various other conditions and criteria. The Water Agency consistently meets state and national standards for drinking water quality.

    Does the Water Agency add fluoride to its water?

    No.  The Water Agency only adds chlorine for disinfection and sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH level of its water.

     

    Water Quality for Private Wells

    The County of Sonoma offers water testing for private wells. Call 707-565-4711 or visit the following websites:

     

    Water Quality Resources: