The journey your tap water takes
It comes naturally – all it takes is a tap of the faucet handle for a cool drink, a press of a button for a fresh wash of clothes or a turn of the handle for a morning shower. Thankfully, you can always count on safe and reliable water from SAWPA and our partners. While this truth may be simple, it is not simply achieved. Let’s investigate where your water starts, how you can trust its quality, and who is behind the process.
It all starts at the source
Has your water’s origin been out of sight, out of mind? In California, your tap water comes from a mix of selected sources – the two most prevalent are imported water and groundwater.
The California State Water Project collects faraway snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, running from Lake Oroville to Riverside County, to supply drinking water to 27 million people. Beginning in 1960, water specialists and planners saw an opportunity to provide California with enduring water security. Working with the federal government, the State built a massive, first-of-its-kind system including a series of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, tunnels, pipelines, water pumping and electricity infrastructure. This source is called “imported water,” and is a critical part of our supply.
Another imported water source to Southern California is the Colorado River Aqueduct. Constructed in the 1930’s by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the aqueduct impounds water from the Colorado River at Lake Havasu on the California-Arizona border, west across the Mojave and Colorado deserts to the east side of the Santa Ana Mountains. It is one of the primary sources of drinking water for Southern California.
Though imported water constitutes about 25-30% of tap water, groundwater continues to serve as the primary water source to tap water in the Santa Ana River Watershed supporting about 60% of the water needs. Naturally filtered and found in aquifers and basins hundreds of feet underground, groundwater is a trusted source. It reduces reliance on expensive imported water and bolsters water reliability with a sustainable, local supply. In a complex concert of coordination, your local water agency uses its own unique blend of these sources to create a water portfolio that meets your area’s needs.
Four stages of treatment ensure quality
Before making its way to your faucet, your tap water goes through four treatment phases at a water treatment plant near you. Here’s the science of the steps:
- Clarify: safe water additives separate sediment from water
- Filter: Filters and screens eliminate dust, parasites, bacteria, viruses and contaminants.
- Disinfect: Final disinfection destroys any remaining bacteria.
- Test: On-site and laboratory water testing continually monitors quality to ensure it’s always safe to drink. For transparency, public water utilities provide their customers with an annual water quality report.
The people who make it all happen
Have you met anyone from your local water agency? They are all at work for you behind the scenes! SAWPA’s partners are proud to keep high quality water flowing to your faucet.
These teams usually include maintenance crews, scientists and lab technicians, strategic planners and engineers, procurement and finance folks, communications support and water operators who work around the clock to keep it all running. Here are a few agencies in the Santa Ana River Watershed area that may serve you and your neighbors:
- Western Municipal Water District (WMWD)
- Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA)
- Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD)
- Orange County Water District (OCWD)
- San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD)
This Thanksgiving season, take a moment to bask in the wonder of how teams of people across California source and treat water for you. Thankfully, Your SoCal Tap is always safe and reliable. For them, it’s all in a day’s work!