Water Quality FAQ

Due to ongoing drought operations, and in anticipation of the impacts of recent fires in the Cachuma watershed as ash and burned vegetation are washed into the lake, the District is currently using a blend of surface and groundwater to meet customer demand.  In the shift to groundwater you may notice some differences in your water’s appearance as described below.  These changes are purely aesthetic and do not present a health risk.  Generally, changes in the appearance of water tend to occur when wells have been taken offline temporarily for maintenance or repair, or immediately following unforeseen power outages or power surges.

What issues can I expect with the increased use of groundwater over the winter?

Cloudy Appearance due to Air in the Water

White or cloudy water means the water has air in it.  This is a result of the pressure used to move water through the distribution system, and is simply an issue of appearance.  If you let the water sit, it will settle and clear, but this is not necessary.  The presence of air resulting in a cloudy appearance to the water is a cosmetic issue.   

Taste Changes

Because groundwater is high in mineral content, you may notice a slightly different taste.  Due to the fact that the water in the region is very hard, and people have varying preferences for water, individuals may wish to consider additional filters or water softeners to offset the naturally occurring minerals in the water that are not completely removed by the treatment process.  

Potential for Discoloration of Water

The District recently flushed the distribution system, so the occasional problems experienced at the height of the drought with discolored water are not currently an issue.  Yellow or brown water results from an increase of iron and manganese, both of which are naturally occurring in groundwater and may settle in the pipes or be picked up and moved through the water system as customer demands fluctuate.  These mineral pose no health risks.  If you notice discoloration in your water, flush your pipes (see directions below), or call the District at (805) 964-6761 for further assistance.

Is the water safe to drink?

Yes, the water meets all State and Federal primary (health) drinking water standards.   

How do you know it is safe?

In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) strictly regulate water provided by public water systems.  Our State-Certified water treatment facilities monitor your water quality around-the-clock, and the District conducts thousands of tests each year using automated test equipment that continually analyzes water at different steps in the treatment process. Testing is conducted in our own laboratory and by independent state-certified laboratories.  Analysis of the District’s water quality testing is reported in the annual Consumer Confidence Report, which is available online and mailed to customers each spring.  

How do I flush my pipes?

If you do notice discoloration, don’t run or use any water for 1 to 2 hours to allow time for the water to settle.  After 1 to 2 hours turn on your hose halfway (so it flows at a lower 10-15 gallons per minute) and put the water on your plants or lawn for a couple of minutes until the water runs clear.  This will help keep any sediment present in the mainline from being pulled indoors.  If the water has not cleared up, please call the District at (805) 964-6761 for further assistance.  If water is clear, turn off the hose, and then turn on the inside faucets, flush toilets, etc. until the water inside runs clear.  If you do not have a hose or outdoor spigot, wait an hour for sediment to settle and flush by turning on your indoor faucets. For more information on water quality issues related to groundwater, click here.