Frequently Asked Questions

WATER TESTING

Is Fresno’s water safe to drink?
Yes. The City's water supply is strictly regulated by state and federal government standards – among the most stringent in the world – and our water supply meets and exceeds all standards. Fresno's water treatment systems are viewed as models of good treatment throughout California. If you’re still concerned, call Tommy Esqueda, Director of Public Utilities, at (559) 621-8610.

What about the reports of lead in the water system?
Traces of lead showed up recently while the City was testing water in homes in NE Fresno. If lead concentrations exceed the action level of 15 parts per billion at the 90th percentile of all samples collected at the customer taps, the system must undertake a number of additional actions including notification and possible corrosion control.

The City turned off the NE Surface Water Treatment Plant that supplies water in the test area and has switched to groundwater until we have re-tested the water in those homes and we’re completely satisfied with the water quality.

How is the city correcting the problem?
We have shut off the current water supply from the NE Surface Water Treatment Plant to the test area at, and are flushing the system as we switch those customers to our groundwater supply. We will then re-test those homes whose water showed elevated traces of lead to determine whether the source of the particulate is the City’s water supply or in the property owner’s plumbing. Regardless, once we know the source, we can pursue possible treatment remedies to eliminate or reduce the excess lead levels.

How does lead get into drinking water?
Lead detections in drinking water typically exist at the home level. Sampling at our treatment plants and wells have shown no lead in our treated water. However, this contaminant leaches into the water from a home’s plumbing system where trace levels of lead may be present in plumbing materials including galvanized pipe, fixtures, faucets, and fittings.

Some individual homes showed higher numbers for lead. Isn’t that a concern?
There is no “safe” level for lead, and while the leading cause of lead poisoning around the country is lead paint, any source of lead ingestion is worthy of concern. But the State and Federal guidelines for lead and copper acknowledge an important reality: Any home that has a lead service connection or lead plumbing will impart some varying amount of lead into the home’s water. If you have questions, call Tommy Esqueda, Director of Public Utilities, at (559) 621-8610.

How do I eliminate lead exposure in my home?
Replacement is the only way to completely eliminate lead exposure. Here are some interim steps homeowners can take to reduce it: Flush pipes for 1-2 minutes before drinking. The more time water has been sitting in your home's pipes, the more lead it may contain.

Why is there brown/yellow/orange water coming out of my tap?
The discoloration you see typically comes from the reaction of galvanized pipes in the home when the water is allowed to sit in the pipes for a period of time. It’s usually more noticeable in the morning or evening when the water is first turned on. The longer the water sites in the pipes, the more intense the color will be. Flushing the lines for a minute or two will usually clean up the issue.

Will this discoloration hurt me or anyone else in my household?
Although iron appears unappetizing and may impart a metallic or slightly bitter taste, it offers no health threat. Extremely high levels of iron can induce nausea and vomiting, but that amount would not taste good and one would have a hard time drinking it.

What should I do if I see discoloration in my water?
Although iron appears unappetizing and may impart a metallic or slightly bitter taste, it offers no health threat. Flush your faucet for a few minutes and the discoloration usually disappears. If you continue to see discoloration, call 621-5300 to report it.

Do I need to boil my water?
No. This is not an emergency. If this were an emergency you would have been notified within 24 hours.

Should I buy bottled water?
You do not need to buy bottled water for health reasons. The City's drinking water meets all of the federal, state, or provincial drinking water standards.

  • Our water supply is SAFE and our system meets all the state and federal health standards. We’re just being careful. If you’re concerned about any discoloration or possible traces of lead in your water, run your faucet for a minute or two before drinking or washing.

BILLING

Who do I contact about my water bill and where can I pay my utilities bill?
Fresno City Utilities and Collections(UB&C): (559) 621-6888 

LEAKS

Who do I call to have my water shut off for Repair or to report a leak?
Call (559) 621-5300. After hours water emergencies: (559) 621-1100 or Online.

CONSERVATION

How do I report water waste?
Call the Water Conservation Program: (559) 621-5480 or use on-line water waste reporting form.

Water accumulates in my gutter and on the street. Can you help?
Call Water Conservation at (559) 621-5480 to investigate for overwatering, however, the problem may also be a low spot in the street or gutter where water accumulates. In that case, you should contact Public Works, Street Maintenance at (559) 621-1492.

What days and hours can I water?
For the Summer and Winter schedules, contact the Water Conservation Program (559) 621-5840, or use the quick link to the SUMMER/WINTER WATER SCHEDULES on the right hand side of this page.

Why can’t I water any day or time I want?
A watering schedule that is fair to all customers was developed so that everyone in the community can have enough water at a reliable pressure and at a reasonable rate. For instance if all sprinklers in the City came on during the same day and at the same time, water pressure would dramatically decrease to individual customers and increase energy costs because our pumps must work harder. The schedule has also been adjusted to take advantage of the lower off-peak demand power costs. For the safety of the entire community, maintaining sufficient water pressure in the pipelines is essential for fighting fires.

How can water be lost? According to the hydrologic cycle, all water is reused.
It’s true that water comes back as rain, but it is not spread out evenly on the earth. Some areas have conditions (clouds, evapotranspiration) that cause more rain to fall; other areas have different conditions (cold dry air, lack of clouds) that make the amount of rainfall very small. The earth's surface is nearly three-fourths water so naturally most rain falls into the ocean. The average yearly rainfall for Fresno is about 10.5 inches but even in just the area of the City some places will receive more and some less from any storm. (Traditionally, a region that annually receives less than an average of 10" of rain each year is called a desert.) In comparison, the average yearly rainfall in Phoenix, Arizona is 7.5", Modesto 12", and San Francisco 20.4".

Why is rain or water runoff major sources of pollution and contamination?
The same rain that helps fill reservoirs, swells rivers, and makes plants, trees and crops grow washes over dirty city streets, over piles of industrial waste, etc. Eventually the fallen rain, now called `runoff,' goes directly into surface drinking water sources or seeps down through the ground into underground water aquifers, carrying germs or chemicals - or both - with it. Over-watering is also ‘runoff.’ As water runs off of lawns, flower beds, streets, parking lots and down the gutters it can become contaminated. Even though it takes a long time for water to soak in and reach the aquifer, it can still carry some of these pollutants. The City is then forced to treat the well sites to get rid of the contamination, which can be very expensive. Customers eventually could see this cost reflected in their bills. Landscape watering (lawns, flowerbeds) accounts for about 60% of the home water use in Fresno. Over half of that water is not used by plants. Adjust watering practices to keep water from running off into the gutters (where no grass grows).

PIPES

Where are water lines or pipes near my home?
Most of Fresno's main water pipe lines are buried in the street in front of your property (a few are in public utility easements). When the original water connection was established, a worker tapped into the main waterline in the street with a smaller pipe line, and then connect it to the customer's water meter service at the property. For the customer to actually receive water, pipe lines from the private property must be connected into the water meter service the City has provided. The customer water meter service is usually located in the front of the property. The service is often marked. For information about locating your water meter service, call (559) 621-5300. Note: Broken water lines and services will be repaired by the City; however, the home owner is responsible for any repairs at and after the point of their connection into the water meter service.

QUALITY

Is Fresno’s water safe to drink?
The City's water supply is strictly regulated by state and federal government standards – among the most stringent in the world – and our water supply meets and exceeds all standards. Fresno's water treatment systems are viewed as models of good treatment throughout California.

What are Safe Water Standards related to water quality?
Standards are typically numerical limits on the concentrations, or amounts, of a particular contaminant. In cases where a contaminant cannot be readily measured, such as particular microbiological organisms that can sicken humans, water supplies must provide specific treatment, such as disinfection and filtration, to ensure safe water. Such standards do not usually apply to private wells used by individual households.

Should I buy bottled water?
You do not need to buy bottled water for health reasons. The City's drinking water meets all of the federal, state, or provincial drinking water standards. If you want a drink with a different taste or for convenience, you can buy bottled water, but it costs up to 1,000 times more than municipal drinking water. Of course, in emergencies bottled water can be a vital source of drinking water for people without water.

How do chemicals get into my water?
Many of them, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and others, occur naturally in water, and most of these "natural" chemicals are not harmful to your health. However, rain or overwater runoff, seeping through a hazardous waste dump and other such sites, eventually carries unwanted chemicals into underground water sources and pollutes waterways. But people are also responsible for a lot of the problem. For instance, if you paint your house with an oil-based paint, clean your brushes with paint thinner, and dump the paint thinner in the backyard, you can contaminate an aquifer that may be your own water supply.

What causes sand in my water?
Although not harmful to your health, sand can be a nuisance for our customers and people maintaining the water system. The geologic formations from which our groundwater is pumped include layers of sand, gravel and clay particles. Older wells that were constructed without modern gravel filters and screens can periodically pump sand out from the formation. Fresno has about 100 such wells which are being replaced as funds allow. a new municipal well costs more than $400,000. Occasionally modern wells have various structural failures which also allow sand into the pump intake. You can help us prioritize replacements and repairs by letting us know if you find frequent or large amounts of sand in your system.

Is chlorine added to our water?
Fresno adds chlorine to the water it delivers.  Call us at (559) 621-5300, or click the link under Water Quality for more information.

WATER MANAGEMENT

Where does our drinking water come from?
For City of Fresno customers, the primary source of drinking water is derived from the Fresno Sole Source Aquifer, a large underground water system that supplies many communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The city operates approximately 260 wells that draw water from this aquifer. The groundwater supply is enhanced by water from the City's Surface Water Treatment Facility which receives and treats precipitation and snow melt water from the Kings and San Joaquin watersheds. Fresno has an aggressive echarge program that is continually finding new places and methods to conduct groundwater recharge. Water recharge operations can slow this decline, but with conservation, you can help have a greater impact.

Is our water table dropping?
In the last 70 years, Fresno's water level has dropped from less than 30 feet below the surface in 1930 to approximately 128 feet below the surface in 2009. See Historic Water Level Graph

Will we have enough water in the future?
Good planning and careful use of this precious resource is essential to maintaining a sufficient water supply. To help address these issues, the City implemented a water recharge program. Water is brought down from Millerton Lake and put into ponding basins throughout the city where it soaks (percolates) back into the ground. Of course, we have to pay for this water and it does take some time to percolate into the aquifer. This program, along with the rainfall, helps us replace water pulled out of the ground. Another tool to maintain a sufficient water supply is the City's Surface Water Treatment Facility. This facility helps supplement the groundwater delivered to the community. Surface water from the snow melt is treated at the site and delivered through pipelines to customers. Water treatment is certified by the California State Health Department and must meet all water quality regulations. Water from the facility is the first treated surface water the City of Fresno has delivered to its customers. You, as an individual, can also help by making a serious effort to save water. We hope you will try to influence your family, friends and neighbors so that they, too, will develop good water conservation habits to insure that the community will have a reliable water supply in the future.

RATES

Where can I find the City Water Rates?
Water rates are listed under the City of Fresno Master Fee Schedule found on the Finance Department page under Public Utilities.

Contact Us
1910 E. University Ave.
Fresno, CA 93703-2927
(559) 621-5300
(559) 621-5480
(559) 621-CITY after hour emergencies
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