Public Utility FAQs

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What Holidays does Solid Waste Management Division recognize?
We recognize Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

What do I do with Household Hazardous Wastes?
Please visit our Household Hazardous Waste page for information. Fresno County now has an HHW facility. Call (559) 600-4259 for information and locations.

Where do I take paint?
If usable, donate the paint to a school, church or non-profit organization. If not, empty and dry paint containers can be placed in the blue recycling cart.

For more information visit or call (855) 724-6809 to find a location near you.

What do I do with batteries?
Batteries should be saved for a Household Hazardous Waste Event, please see our Household Hazardous Waste page for more information. Also see our Recycling Page for more information on how to recycle your batteries.

What do I do with concrete?
Small amounts can be placed in on call bins, please call (559) 621-1452 for more information.

What do I do with old tires?
Tires are recycled through Code Enforcement, please visit their website or call (559) 621-8400.

How do I report a skipped container?
Please call (559) 621-1452 to speak to a customer service clerk. Our customer service line is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM through 4:15 PM. If you are a residential customer and are calling on your service day, please wait until at least 6:00 PM to allow the route time to service your area.

Residential Services

What goes in what container?
Visit our Green, Gray, and Blue Cart pages for information on what goes in each cart. If you still are not sure, please call (559) 621-1452 or (559) 621-1111.

How do I report service concerns or if I did not receive service?
Please call (559) 621-1452 and speak with our Customer Service staff.

What do I do if my container is stolen?
Please call (559) 621-1452 to report stolen containers and to request new ones.

What types of special services are available?
Please visit our Additional Services page for more information.

How do I start or stop service, make payments, or inquire about my bill?
Contact City of Fresno Utilities, Billing and Collection At (559) 621-6888.

When will Operation Clean-up come to my neighborhood?
Call (559) 621-1452 for Operation Clean-up information.

What Holidays does Solid Waste recognize?
We recognize Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.


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?

An outdoor water use schedule was implemented in the City of Fresno to aid in the statewide effort to conserve water.  The Three-Day Outdoor Water Use Schedule and One-Day Outdoor Water Use Schedule accounts for the extreme heat of the summer and cooler winter temperatures respectively.  These schedules also call for no excessive water use during the hottest parts of the day to help reduce the amount of water waste due to evaporation.

Additionally, the outdoor water use schedule was developed so that everyone in the community can have enough water at a reliable pressure and at a reasonable cost.  If all sprinklers in the City came on at the same time, water pressure would dramatically decrease for customers, and the City’s energy costs would increase as pumps would have to work harder to produce enough water to meet the demand.  The outdoor watering schedule has been adjusted to take advantage of the lower off-peak demand power costs.

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).


Where are water lines or pipes near my home?
Most of Fresno’s main water pipelines 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 homeowner is responsible for any repairs at and after the point of their connection into the water meter service.


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.

Recycled Water

What is recycled water?
The California Water Code defines recycled water as “water which, as a result of treatment of waste, is suitable for a direct beneficial use or a controlled use that would not otherwise occur.” Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a groundwater basin. A common type of recycled water is water that has been reclaimed from municipal wastewater.

Using recycled water reduces the need to use drinking water for non-potable uses.

Who develops the health standards for recycled water?
The California Department of Public Health (CaDPH) establishes and enforces the standards for municipal wastewater reuse to protect public health. “Water Recycling Criteria” in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations defines terms and regulation related to recycled water including specific treatment and use for various types of recycled water. The City of Fresno and customers using the water for irrigation must meet these requirements for recycled water. The California Regional Water Quality Control Board has permitting and ongoing oversight authority over recycled water.

Is it risky to experiment with this kind of water in outdoor landscape spaces?
Recycling water is long past the experimental stage in this country and throughout the world. It is being used for crop irrigation as well as to water parks, school grounds and other open spaces from Florida to California. Cities like San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Daly City and other Bay Area and Southern California communities use it on their parks, schools, median strips, large landscape areas, and golf courses. Recycled water is used also in business parks, for indoor fire
protection and toilet flushing in commercial buildings, in decorative fountains and car washes.

Could recycled water get mixed with the City of Fresno’s drinking water supply?
Absolutely not. Pursuant to state law, the City of Fresno will construct a separate recycled water delivery system using purple pipe. The 2009 edition of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) changed the code to require purple pipe for recycled water. The primary objective of the UPC is to protect the potable water supply. Implementing the use of purple pipe is intended to prevent cross connection between water and recycled water.

How will I know if the water I see sprinkling parks and other outdoor spaces is drinking water or recycled water?
One of the requirements for sites using recycled water is the placement of signs around the reuse area to advise the public recycled water is being used. The signs caution the public not to drink this water. In addition, pipes, sprinkler heads or pumps distributing recycled water are marked or color coded purple. Landscaped areas or any other application using recycled water should be clearly marked with bilingual signs stating the usage of recycled water.

Does recycled water give our landscape sufficient minerals?
Yes. Recycled water can play a major role in the successful management of turf grasses in our area. Because recycled water is produced from municipal wastewater, the large volumes of water needed to maintain adequate turf growth are readily available even during periods of water shortage. The higher nutrient content of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in recycled water is beneficial to turf grasses. In many cases, turf and other landscape plants will be able to obtain from recycled water all the phosphorous and potassium they require, and a large part of their nitrogen requirement. Sufficient micronutrients are also supplied by recycled water.

Does recycled water smell bad?
It is possible some people may detect a slight chlorine odor; however, the odor is usually less than a swimming pool or hot tub.

Will recycled water be safe for children playing in park areas?
Yes. The CaDPH has determined that tertiary treated water complying with California Title 22 standards is safe. Park areas have been irrigated safely with recycled water with no reported cases of people getting ill.

Children play in the parks and sometimes drink from sprinklers. What happens if a child drinks from a sprinkler?
Just as children may swallow some water at a beach, they could swallow some recycled water without getting sick. Adverse health effects from recycled water could appear only if it were ingested in large quantities over an extended period of time; consequently, recycled water is not intended for drinking. There are no reported cases of people getting sick from recycled water.

What happens if a child falls down in a pool of recycled water and has open cut? Will the cut get infected?
The cut should be cleaned just as would be the case after any fall. Getting dirt into the cut would be more serious than the exposure to recycled water.

Does recycled water cause spots on vehicles?
The spots you are referring to are normally the effects of hard water on smooth surfaces. Any type of water will spot cars if allowed to dry on the surface, and water that has more minerals could produce more noticeable spotting. However, irrigation schedules will occur at night and if cars are in driveways, it is unlikely they will be impacted with over spray from sprinklers.

What are the benefits for using recycled water?
Recycled water is part of Fresno’s Urban Water Management Plan, the long-range plan to develop a more sustainable water supply for our community. By using recycled water for non-potable applications, the City can effectively continue to supply water for our parks, schools, car washes, golf courses, and other landscape irrigation uses, while saving our drinking water for uses like cooking, showering, laundry, and of course, drinking.


What types of items are recyclable?
Please visit our Blue Cart page for information on what is recyclable in the City of Fresno. If you still have questions please call (559) 621-1111.

What plastics are recyclable?
All plastics can be recycled in The City of Fresno blue carts and bins. This includes unnumbered plastics but not Styrofoam.

Why can’t Styrofoam go into the recycling bin if it has triangles on the bottom?
There is currently no market for Styrofoam, therefore it needs to be placed in the gray cart. Styrofoam “peanuts” can be taken to packaging stores such as Mailboxes Etc, The UPS Store, Pack & Ship Pros, etc…


What is Salinity?
Salinity is the presence of inorganic ions or compounds dissolved in water or soil. The most common ions in water are sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, carbonate, bicarbonate, sulfate and nitrate, which we commonly refers as salts.

Why is it a challenge?
Salinity is a silent threat of enormous proportions. Salt in the past had led to the fall of civilizations. If left alone, it will impact our future water resources resulting in costly treatment before water could be used for human, agricultural or industrial consumption. Solutions in the Central Valley depend on the development and implementation of effective land use and water supply. Raising awareness of this issue and researching for solutions is a must.

How do we measure salts?
An easy way to determine the amount of salts is to measure its electrical conductivity (EC) in μmhos/cm (micromhos per centimeter) which is the ability of a liquid to carry an electrical current. This ability depends on the presence of free ions. The higher the amount of salts in a liquid or soil, the higher the EC. Another way to measure salts in water is through the total dissolved solids (TDS) in mg/L which measures the dissolved portion of solids in water, including volatile and non-volatile compounds.

What causes salinity?
Natural occurrence: Salinity occurs naturally from saline springs, erosion of saline geological formations, native runoff or weathering of rock minerals.

Irrigated agriculture: Salts concentrate in irrigated soils through the process of evaporation. Further irrigation of the same soil leaches salt into the ground, creeks or rivers.

Confined animal facilities: Salts concentrate in disposal lagoons or soils where evaporation and percolation occurs.

Land discharge processes: Salts concentrate in land where disposal of industrial processing waste occurs.

Urban Contribution: Salts are a result of using any type of chemicals for daily household, commercial or industrial sanitation. Common everyday activities such as washing hands with soaps, doing laundry, sanitizing commercial buildings or rinsing a processed product can add salt to the wastewater discharge of each household, commercial or industrial business.

What is the impact of salinity on the community?
Threatens water resources and supply. Excess salts can accumulate on surface and groundwater resulting in water not suitable for consumption or agricultural uses.

Decreases crop yield. Salty water results in a decline of agricultural productivity related to saline soils which in high concentrations could be toxic to certain plants or could restrict the plant’s uptake of nutrients.

Limits beneficial uses. Salts pass through conventional wastewater treatment systems. Excessive salts in recycled water limits re-use opportunities.

Adds costs to utilities and threatens economic growth. Increasing costs for treatment of salts in water and wastewater could be passed on to the customer, resulting in added costs and economic hardship for the entire community.

Shorten life of appliances. Salt deposits caused by excessive ions in water (hard water) could shorten the life of your appliances such as water heaters, coffee makers or water fixtures such as faucets, shower heads and water pipes.

How can we manage salts?
There is not one common solution. Wastewater treatment facilities can not economically treat salts from urban contribution. If we do nothing today, salts will continue to accumulate in our water basin and will make our future water supply not suitable for human or agricultural consumption. Public education will raise awareness of the problem; funding for research is necessary for interim and long-term solutions.

What can we do to help?
Conservation is key. The less you use, the less you put down the drain.

Choose liquid over powder detergents. Fillers on powder detergents add unnecessary salts to the wastewater produced when laundering clothes.

Use the minimum amount needed of household cleaning products. Read product’s instructions and avoid excess application of household or personal cleaning products when possible.

Choose dryer sheets over liquid fabric softeners. Avoid adding additional salts to the water used on your laundry.

Choose moping pads instead of a mop and bucket of water. Sweep floors and use dry products with as little water as possible.

Use organic compost instead of chemical fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers leach down to the ground quicker. Organic compost slowly releases nutrients requiring less application each year.

Disconnect self-regenerating salt-based water softeners at your home. Salt-based water softeners seem to take care of hard water problems at your home but cause a different problem down the drain. Salty water from the regeneration of these appliances is discharged to the sewer resulting in salts that are not treated and ending up in a body of water or the ground.

Street Sweeping & Litter Control

Why wasn’t sweeping completed in front of my home?
There are many reasons. Most often, it’s because items such as cars, bicycles, toys, basketball hoops and refuse containers are blocking the roadway. Vehicles parked too close to each other for the sweeper to maneuver between them are another cause. Low hanging trees and shrubs can prevent sweepers from cleaning in front of your home as well.

What can you do to help street sweepers?
Keeping the roadway in front of your house free of large objects and obstructions is the best way to assist street sweeping. Large sticks, branches and pine needles can clog and jam the sweepers’ operating systems.

What about sweeping up leaves?
During the winter months the focus of the City’s street sweeping efforts is leaf removal to help keep drains clear. To better assist sweepers, do not rake, blow or pile up leaves in the gutter of the street; doing so is considered illegal dumping. The sweeper cannot pick up large loads. Please place leaves from your trees in your green solid waste container.

Safety precautions near sweepers?
Be sure to keep a safe distance between you and the sweeper at all times. Try to avoid maneuvering around sweeper trucks; move off to the side of the road until you are sure it is safe to continue. Keep children a safe distance from the sweepers. Do not ride, run or play near the trucks.

Utility Billing

How soon does my payment show up?
As soon as you make a payment and get an authorization it will show up as a pending payment on your account.

Can I pay at anytime online?
For the most part the system is available at any hour. The only time it may not be available is when there is system maintenance being done. The times are listed when that occurs.

Can I pay for a building permit and my utility bill at the same time?
No, the building permit application is separate so you must log into each area individually.

I have tried to make a payment and it tells me the card has been denied. What can I do?
Please contact your bank in this situation.

Can I make changes to my account, such as a mailing address change?
The system does not allow changes but you can click on the help button and fill out the form that pops up.

Where can I pay my utility bill?
Your City of Fresno Utility bill can be paid in the Utilities Billing and Collection Division located inside City Hall on the first floor. City Hall is located on P Street, between Tulare and Fresno Streets. Our lobby business hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Payment may also be made by credit card over the phone. For more information contact the Utilities Billing and Collection Division at (559) 621-6888.

What is the watering schedule for the City of Fresno?  
Watering Days Summer Schedule May 1 – November 30. Days — Customers with addresses ending with odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9) may water on Tuesdays, Saturdays. Customers with addresses ending with even numbers (0,2,4,6,8) may water on Wednesdays, Sundays. Hours — Customers may not water between the hours of 9AM and 6PM.

Winter Schedule December 1 – April 30. Days — Customers with addresses ending with odd numbers (1,3,5,7,9) may water on Saturdays. Customers with addresses ending with even numbers (2,4,6,8,0) may water on Sundays. Hours — Customers may not water between the hours of 9AM and 6PM..

For more information, visit the City of Fresno Watering Schedules webpage.

If I receive a water shut off warning notice, can I mail in the payment?
No. Payment must be brought into the City Hall Utilities Office. We advise you not send in payment by mail because there is no guarantee that we will receive the payment before the service is shut off.

If I receive a water shut off warning notice by mail, how long do you allow for payment?   
48 hours from receipt of the notice.

When is Operation Cleanup in my area?  
Call Community Sanitation at (559) 621-1447 for the scheduled time in your area or visit the Operation Cleanup webpage.

Who or what department can I call if the street sweeper doesn’t come on my street?
Call Community Sanitation at (559) 621-1447 for information regarding street sweeping or visit the Street Sweeping webpage.

Why was my trash not picked up?  
There may have been a problem with the location of the container or the time it was put out. The disposal driver will usually leave a notice describing the problem. Call Solid Waste at (559) 621-1452 if you have any questions.

Since my trash wasn’t picked up, will I get a credit or will my bill be prorated?   
No. If your service was skipped and called in, it should be picked up by the end of that day or the next working day. Since the service was provided, no adjustment will be made to the bill.

How do I get a 64 gallon container? How long should it take to receive it?  
Call Utilities Customer Service at (559) 621-6888 to change the size of your trash can. It usually takes 3-5 days for delivery.

What is the minimum payment required to keep my water service on?  
Any past due balance including late charges must be paid to avoid interruption of service.

When will I get my refund check?  
Usually within 30 days after the account is closed.

What are my scheduled trash pick up days?  
Call Utilities Customer Service at (559) 621-6888 for trash pick up days. Call Solid Waste at (559) 621-1452 if your trash wasn’t picked up.

Why was my senior citizen discount discontinued?  
Your eligibility for the discount may have changed. If you are no longer the customer of record, or if more than three people reside at the residence, you may no longer qualify for the discount. If you have recently moved, the discount may not have been transferred to your new address. Please call (559) 621-6888 for details.

Did you receive my payment? What is the balance on my account?  
For payment and account balance information, please call Utilities Customer Service at (559) 621-6888.

Why am I still charged if my water is off?  
If the water was shut off for non-payment and the property is occupied, most services are still used. Therefore, we continue to bill for all of the services.

What is a backflow device?
It is a state mandated device placed on specific types of water users to protect the City water supply. If the water pressure in the area or in a building drops, the used wastewater already in the building can flow back into the main water system. The backflow device is in place to prevent this.

What do I need to do to get my water turned on?  
If you are a new customer, a deposit and/or rental agreement and personal information for the application is required. If the service is shut off for non-payment, payment in full is required. Call (559)621-6888 to get additional information.

Can I make a payment arrangement on a returned check?   
No, payment of the check must be made in full with cash or a money order.

Can I pay a returned check with another check?  
No, returned checks must be paid in full by cash or money order in the office at City Hall.

Who do I call to get new recycling containers? Why wasn’t my recycling container picked up?  
Call the recycling hotline at (559) 621-1111. For more information on recycling visit Solid Waste Recycling at: Solid Waste

What are the Utilities rates in the City of Fresno?  
Customers in the City of Fresno are billed monthly for Water, Sewer, Solid Waste, and Community Sanitation. Single Family homes are billed using a flat rate. The size of the trash can and the square footage of the property will affect the rate. Commercial and Multi-residential properties are billed using a metered rate for water. The size of the trash container will also affect the rate.

Water Discharge Pretreatment Program

What is the Pretreatment Program?
The Pretreatment Program is a cooperative effort of federal, state, and local regulatory environmental agencies established to protect water quality. The objectives of the local program are 1) to protect the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW), or the municipal sewer system and wastewater treatment facility, from pollutants that may interfere with plant operation or pass through the plant untreated and 2) to improve opportunities for the POTW to reuse treated wastewater and the biosolids that are generated.

Under What Statutory Authority is the Pretreatment Program Administered?
The Pretreatment Program is administered through the Clean Water Act which called for EPA to develop national pretreatment standards to control industrial discharges into sewerage systems.

What are National Standards?
They are uniform national requirements which restrict the level of certain pollutants in the wastewater discharged by industries. All POTWs must enforce the federal standards. National standards consist of Prohibited Discharge Standards, which apply to all industrial users, and Categorical Pretreatment Standards, which apply to specific types, or categories, of industrial user, such as electroplaters.

What are the Prohibited Discharge Standards?
The specific prohibitions state that pollutants shall not be introduced into a POTW that 1) create a fire or explosion hazard in the collection system or treatment plant, 2) are corrosive , including any discharge with a pH less than 5.0, unless the POTW is specifically designed to handle such wastes, 3) are solid or viscous pollutants in amounts that will obstruct the flow in the collection system and treatment plant, resulting in interference with operations, 4) include any pollutant discharged in quantities sufficient to interfere with POTW operations, and 5) are discharged with temperatures above 140 F (40 C) when they reach the treatment plant, or hot enough to interfere with biological processes.

Who is regulated under the Pretreatment Program?
The Pretreatment Program applies to all Significant Industrial Users. Basically, a Significant Industrial User (SIU) is a discharger of wastewater that is subject to a Categorical Pretreatment Standard (e.g., electroplater) or who discharges an average of 25,000 gallons per day or more of process wastewater (excluding sanitary, noncontact cooling and boiler blowdown wastewater). Discharges from an SIU are controlled through a wastewater discharge permit which is issued by the Wastewater Management Division of the City of Fresno.

If an industry is not considered a Significant Industrial User, by definition, is it exempt from the wastewater discharge permit requirements?
No. A Significant Industrial User is issued a Class I wastewater discharge permit which is good for one year; however, there are other classes of permits issued for various lengths of time depending on the type of business.

What is the process of obtaining a wastewater discharge permit?
Any industrial user who thinks they might be regulated can contact the Wastewater Management Division at (559) 621-5100. After a preliminary discussion, a wastewater discharge permit application will be sent asking for more detailed information concerning the type of business, the estimated volume of water used and discharged, hazardous materials information, etc. Once completed, an inspection will conducted and, if approved, a wastewater discharge permit will be issued.

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 recharge 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.

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.

Water 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.

What type of water treatment system should I use?
The City provides its customers with water that meets strict federal, state and local standards. Use of water treatment systems is not necessary. If you still choose to have a water treatment system, select the one appropriate for your needs and less impacting to the environment.

Why do you recommend disconnecting salt-based water softeners?
The most common and least expensive water treatment system are salt-based water softeners. They are commonly used to avoid water spots or scale on pipes and water heaters caused by the excess of minerals in the water (salts). Brine (water and common salt) is used to recharge the resin that catches all the undesirable ions that cause the water spots. The brine is discharged to the sewer system each time this recharge occurs. Salt cannot be removed using conventional treatment at the wastewater treatment plant, passing through and making its way to the ground, groundwater or surface water.

Do I have other alternatives to soften my water?
You have to ask yourself if you really need to soften your water. Some areas in Fresno (specifically in the northeast area) have very soft water and installing a water softener could damage your water pipes and plumbing fixtures because soft water tends to be more corrosive than hard water. Consider replacing your salt-based system with a reverse osmosis (RO) system and have it serviced on a regular schedule.

If you still choose to install a salt-based water softener system, select those that recharge on demand rather than those that recharge based on time. In addition, limit the areas where you want the water softened, such as specific for the water heater only instead of a whole house water softening system.

Can salt-based water softeners eliminate chlorine taste or odor from water?
No, water softeners do not eliminate odors nor taste. If your concern is how the water tastes, looks or smells you could choose a variety of filters that will serve that purpose. Make sure they are serviced or replaced on a timely schedule to get the best of their use.

Does water conservation make salt accumulation worse?
No, it does not. There is a difference between concentration and mass generated. If you have one ounce of salt in 2 gallons of water and one ounce of salt in 1 gallon of water, you will have a more concentrated solution in the 1-gallon example. However, the amount (or mass) of salt is the same in each case.

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 the 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.