How Do Cities Use Water?

Cities rely on water resources to provide services to their residents that can go unnoticed. When we think about water in our daily lives we often think about drinking water, taking a shower, brushing our teeth or watering the lawn. Water is necessary for survival, hygiene and to maintain our yards, but cities also utilize water supplies for everyday use that benefit their community in many ways we never think about.

Fire hydrants include important infrastructure necessary to provide residents with the fire flows as required by regulations to fight fire. The City of Riverside, which has its own fire department, receives the water used for firefighting from the same sources as drinking water. The water used for firefighting is not recycled water, it is in fact potable drinking water.


While some fire trucks do hold water, many variables affect if and when water from a hydrant is needed to fight fire. Hydrants pull water from the same water supply that residents receive in their homes. Hydrants are able to provide pressurized water through the use of fire engines to fight fire. Hydrants provide a life-saving tool when needed and without water they would not be effective.

Cities also utilize water for street cleaning services. Keeping roads clean and maintained preserves the appearance of communities. Street cleaning is a service that may go unobserved by residents, however it is not only necessary for the visible appearance, but also because it eliminates trash and debris that can often end up in the storm drains. Water used in street cleaning services can come from recycled or potable drinking water.

Street cleaning vehicle

The City of Riverside currently uses potable water for street sweeping, but as they expand the production of recycled water there may be an opportunity in the future to utilize recycled water for this service. According to San Diego County Water Authority, “Street sweeping is a great non-potable use of recycled water because it reduces the demand for high-quality drinking water, which is more beneficially used for human consumption rather than for cleaning our roads.” The City of Corona also utilized recycled water for street cleaning.

Cities are responsible for the care and maintenance of their parks, landscaped areas and center medians in the road, all of which can often include plants requiring watering. Cities care for these landscaped areas needing water. In the City of Riverside all recreational facilities include potable water, such as splash pads and fountains. While currently irrigation is administered with potable water, there are plans to transition to recycled water. “As the City’s recycled water system expands over the next 12 months with the Jackson Street – Phase 1 project, some parks within the City will convert to utilizing recycled water to irrigate.  With future expansion, the intent is to provide recycled water to nearby parks for irrigation,” shared Robbie Silver, Public Information Coordinator for Riverside Public Utilities.


In the City of Corona, wherever parks and school mainlines for recycled water are present they have converted water from potable to recycled. In 2015 the City converted six parks to recycled water for irrigation. “Recently, the City was awarded an Urban Rivers Grant to convert 18 landscape maintenance district irrigation meters from potable to recycled water services,” said Melinda Weinrich,Water Resources Supervisor at City of Corona. “We are also coordinating with our parks and schools to adjust watering of parks and schools on recycled water to ensure demand does not strain the system.” Corona has also converted several businesses, shopping centers, churches and HOAs to recycled water service for irrigation over the past few years.

Every day cities across the country utilize water to operate and provide services to the people to live, work and visit their region. Their use of water not only keeps up the appearance of cities, but also enhances the lives of those who in their communities.


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