Water Quality Issues

Due to the recent historic drought and the impacts of 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.  The Goleta Valley is fortunate to have the Goleta Groundwater Basin to rely on during periods of drought and for blending to improve water quality.  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.

  • 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.
  • Brown water results from an increase of iron and manganese, both of which are naturally occurring in ground water and may settle in the pipes and pose no health risks.  In the event brown water comes out of your tap, run the faucet for five minutes to flush the line, or call District customer service at 805 964-6761 for instructions. Various commercial rust remover products such as RoVer®, Rit Rust Remover®, Iron-Out®, Miracle-Rid-Iron®, or Whink® can be used to remove any stains from clothing or fabric that result from the iron and manganese in the water.  

These changes in appearance tend to occur when wells have been taken offline temporarily for maintenance or repair, or immediately following unforeseen power outages or power surges during heavy storm activity.

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.   

If your property was damaged as a result of iron or manganese rust in your water, the District may reimburse you for costs associated with that damage.  To submit a claim for property damage related to iron or manganese rust, please contact District customer service for a claim form.  Please include with the claim form photographic or physical evidence of the damage as well as receipts or invoices that substantiate the cost of remedying the damage or the value of the damaged property.  Additionally, the District may require you to surrender the damaged property.