Property Owners and Contractors

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Property owners and contractors must be aware of their responsibilities for connection, maintenance, and repair of water lines and related fixtures.  Information on this page serves as a reference for property owners and contractors to better understand City responsibilities, property owner responsibilities, connection requirements, and construction procedures and standards.

Property Owner Responsibility

Each home or commercial building has a separate connection to the water system.  A water meter on each property measures the amount of water delivered to the property.  The service line is the pipe delivering water from the water meter to the house or building.

The property owner is responsible for maintaining and repairing their own service line from the house or building to the point of connection with the water meter. It is the City’s responsibility to maintain the water service from the water main up to and including the water meter.  The drawing below illustrates a typical water service connection. 

Typical Residential Water Service Connection



Most pressure-related calls received at the Water Division are the result of something happening on the customer’s property. Most frequently, low pressure is related to either the main house valve or the curb-stop in the meter box being partly closed.  Sometimes, after closing the valve for a repair on the property, it may not be fully re-opened, or in other cases, the valve may be accidentally closed.  Older valves may break internally in a partly closed position when operated and, if this is the case, the only solution is to replace the valve. To fully open a closed or partly closed valve, turn fully to the left (counterclockwise) until it stops then back to the right ¼ turn. To close the valve, turn fully to the right and then back to the left ¼ turn.

If the low pressure exists in only part of the house, it is usually an issue of sediment buildup in the aerator where the water comes out of the faucet. This sediment builds up in the tiny holes of the aerator, thereby restricting the water flow. The aerator must be removed, disassembled, and cleaned. Please note that the aerator consists of a few small parts and you must reassemble it the same way it came out.  With the aerator removed, strongly flush the hot and cold water taps to flush any sediment from the lines. Please note that strongly flushing faucets without the aerator in place will result in a lot of water splash, and placing a towel over the sink will help to minimize the mess. If possible, try to capture some of the sediment in a small pot so you can determine what it is. More information about the types of sediment can be found in the section below. 

Low water pressure in only part of the house may also be due to partly closed valves under the sink.  It is possible that the valves were closed for a repair or other activity and simply weren’t fully re-opened. 

Another frequent cause of low pressure in the house is related to water softeners. Check the main valve, flow, and pressure at the front hose bib first to confirm the issue is only inside the home. Sometimes the screen or membrane that keeps the water softener resin in the tank fails, and resin will start to leave the tank with normal water use, or it will plug the control head and restrict flow, causing a pressure loss. This problem is more of a restriction in flow than a loss of pressure. If possible, put the softener is by-pass mode and see if the pressure in the home improves. Not all softeners have by-pass valves but if one does, the valve will usually be marked in some way to indicate how to by-pass the softener. If the softener cannot be by-passed, it may need to be removed altogether.

Check a few faucet aerators for signs of resin in the water lines. If resin is present, remove all aerators and shower heads, then completely and powerfully flush all hot and cold water lines in the home including the water heater, washing machine and dishwasher. Please note that the water heater should be flushed before you begin flushing water lines.


There are typically three types of sediment that customers find in water lines: sand, calcium, and water softener resin. Fortunately, these are easily identifiable and can point to the source of the problem.

Sand comes from granite rocks and is usually uniform in size, color, and shape. It can be fine grained or coarse, small, or large. Sand is very hard and, when rubbed firmly between your fingers, it will not crush. The source of sand is typically from a nearby well.  Please call the Water Division at (559) 621-5300 if you find sand in your water.

Calcium, on the other hand, will be a mix of various sized pieces ranging from very small to “pickers,” individual pieces you can pick up with just your fingertips. Calcium can be all one color or a mixture of color, depending on other minerals that are present. Calcium is soft and, if rubbed between your fingers, will crumble or, if wet, will turn to paste. Calcium forms in your water heater and accumulates at the bottom until there is so much that it then migrates into home plumbing and eventually is trapped in aerators. Calcium will also form in ice cubes and will become noticeable when the ice melts – there will be a residue at the bottom of the drinking glass.

If you have a water softener and suddenly start to notice a loss of pressure or flow or notice something that looks like a sand in the bottom of the bathtub, shower stall, or a pot of water, it may be resin from the water softener. Softener resin looks like tiny fish eggs and ranges in color from a very light tan to dark brown but is also somewhat translucent – you can almost see through most of the deposits. Resin deposits are firm but very slippery, especially when wet, and you would not want to walk through a pile of them.

If you notice mineral buildup around your sink, shower doors, windows that the sprinklers might hit, or appliances that make hot water, you likely have calcium and other minerals present in your water. It is not uncommon to find a mixture of sand and calcium together, but one would be more prevalent than the other, and that could help point you in the right direction.  Information about how to flush your plumbing can be found in the document below.


Almost all homes and businesses have a main valve just outside the front door. It is also sometimes located on the side of the house for corner lots or in the back yard of older homes, especially if there is an alley in back. It is important to know where this valve is located, as this is the valve you would need to close if there was an emergency in your home plumbing. It is also the valve you would close if you had a plumbing project and needed to shut the water off in your home. Sometimes, the main valve would also shut off the irrigation system or maybe just part of it.

Not only is it essential to know where the main valve is located, it is also important to know that it works correctly.  Property owners rarely use it, but when it is needed most, it can be almost impossible to turn with a bare hand. Turning the valve with a tool, such as pliers, can sometimes break the valve in a partly closed position. It is recommended that property owners test their main valve occasionally to make sure the valve functions correctly.  Turn to the right (clockwise) to close or to the left (counterclockwise) to open. Whether opening or closing, always back off the handle ¼ turn from the fully open or closed position.

A pretty simple way to find most water main valves is to locate the pipe that comes up out of the ground right next to the house. There is most likely a hose bib present. In most circumstances, the main water line ends in a tee. On one side of the tee would be a hose bib and the other side would be a pipe that continues through the wall into the house.

Once you locate the main pipe, there are usually one or two valves on the pipe – one is the main valve, and if a second valve is present, it would be for the irrigation system. The irrigation line traditionally tees off the main line.  The main valve is traditionally found after the tee, but depending on how the plumbing system was designed, the tee could be either above or below the main valve. If the irrigation tee is located above the valve, closing the main valve would also close the irrigation line. If the irrigation tee is below the main valve, the irrigation system would still be live while the house would be without water. In some older parts of town, the main valve may be buried just a few inches under the dirt but very close to the pipe described above.

If you cannot turn off your water supply, contact the Water Division at (559) 621-5300 to request a shut-off.  For planned activities, customers can schedule an appointment ahead of time.  Restoration of water service (turn-ons) is only handled during working hours and as staff is available. Customers may be assessed a service charge if an after-hours turn-on is needed. 


It is the City’s responsibility to maintain the water service from the water main up to and including the water meter.  With 1,880 miles of water mains across the City’s service area, it is not unusual for leaks to develop from time to time.  If you notice a leak from any portion of the City’s water service, including fire hydrants, please report the leak so that we can make the appropriate repairs. 

To report a leak or other water-related concern:

  • Call the City of Fresno’s 311 Centerby dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or calling (559) 621-CITY (2489); or
  • Report the issue in FresGO

Although we want to repair leaks as quickly as possible, it is important to note that there is a process that must be followed to repair leaks in the City’s water system. 

Water operations personnel investigate reports of water leaks within water meter boxes and streets.  A water technician will investigate the source and severity of the leak.  Technicians typically respond to leak reports within one hour, but higher priority leaks may take precedence.

Water operations staff prioritize repairs based on technicians’ initial findings.  Leak repairs are prioritized based on many factors including the severity of the leak, public safety, the environment, probability of property damage, unsafe traffic conditions, or other issues specific to the situation.

If a leak repair requires excavation, water operations staff must call 8-1-1 to notify other agencies and utilities to mark the underground locations of gas, electricity, sewer, and communications lines.  This step is required by law and ensures that staff can dig without damaging other utility lines or endangering employees and the public.  Unless the break is an emergency, staff must allow at least two working days for other utilities to identify their lines.


The property owner is responsible for maintaining and repairing their own service line and plumbing system from the house or building up to the point of connection with the water meter. If a leak develops on any portion of a private property plumbing system, it is the property owner’s responsibility to repair the leak.  If needed, contact a plumber for assistance. 

The Water Conservation Program offers Interior/Exterior Water Leak Surveys for customers who suspect a leak, receive a high water bill, or have received a notice from Water Conservation Program staff.  More information about water conservation services such as Leak Surveys can be found on the Water Conservation Program Services & Surveys  web page. 

Private Wells and Connection to City Water

In 2014, the State of California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which established a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management.  SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge.  This legislation requires that the amount of water removed from the groundwater basin cannot be more than what is put back into the basin through the recharge process.

Since SGMA was established in 2014, it has become a priority of the City of Fresno to reduce the number of groundwater wells contributing to:

  • Chronic lowering of groundwater levels
  • Significant and unreasonable reduction of groundwater storage
  • Significant and unreasonable degraded water quality


Per the Fresno Municipal Code Section 6-402(a), the drilling of new private supply wells within the City’s service area is prohibited:

“The drilling or digging of wells within the city, except by the City of Fresno, for any other purpose than for furnishing water in whole or in part for refrigeration, air conditioning, or for the purpose of furnishing water to any refrigeration or air-cooling system or unit, or for a drainage well in connection therewith, or for irrigation, or use as a monitoring well, is hereby prohibited.”

If a private service well becomes unusable, the City will not issue any permits to repair or deepen the existing well, or to drill a new well.  The property will therefore be required to connect to the City’s water system.


A permit for the drilling of a supply well for domestic, commercial, or industrial purposes may be issued for temporary use only, under the following conditions:

  1. City water mains are not in place adjacent to the property involved.
  2. The City has determined that it is not economically feasible or desirable to extend City water mains to serve the property when the owner or lessee requests service.
  3. The owner or lessee of the property has executed an agreement for the abandonment of the use of the well either by capping off and installing a backflow device or destroying the well through a C-57 licensed contractor, upon notice by the City.  Such notice shall be given immediately following installation of water mains adjacent to the property on which the well has been drilled.

When applicable, land use agreements shall be required for all new wells drilled within the City. 



To assist property owners with the costs of connecting to the City’s water system, the Fresno City Council has approved a low-interest loan option for single-family residential property owners.  This loan option includes the water connection fees, the costs of onsite plumbing to complete the water connection, and the costs to destroy the existing well.

“Payment of water connection fees, private water service line installation, and well destruction charges for existing single-family residences, and existing commercial or industrial development in the former Enterprise Zone, may be deferred by an agreement between the property owner and the City, to pay such costs, up to a maximum loan amount of $15,000, over a period of not more than 20 years” (Water Connection Agreement, WCA).  FMC § 6-507(d)


For additional information about well drilling or the Water Connection Loan Program, contact the City of Fresno 311 Center by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or by calling (559) 621-CITY (2489), or review the documents below.

Water Service Connection Information

Water Loan Program

Water Loan Program – Next Steps

Permitting Process – Water Service Connections

The following steps must be completed to properly connect a property to the City’s water system:

  1. Pay connection fees (Public Works Engineering).

    To obtain a cost estimate of the connection fees and charges, contact Frank Saburit at (559) 621-8797 or [email protected].
  2. City installs the water meter box on the property and begins service billing for the property (Department of Public Utilities).
  3. Obtain appropriate permits for on-site plumbing (Planning & Development) and well destruction (Public Works Engineering).

    Information about building permits for on-site plumbing can be found on the Planning & Development – Building & Safety  web page or by calling (559) 621-8084 or (559) 621-8082.

    Well destruction permit applications are available in PDF form for download below, or hard copies can be requested by contacting the City of Fresno’s 311 Centerby dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or calling (559) 621-CITY (2489).

    Permit Application to Install, Modify, and Destroy Wells 
  4. Complete the work to connect to the water system and destroy the existing well.
  5. Obtain final inspection approval for on-site plumbing (Planning & Development) and well destruction (Department of Public Utilities).

    For on-site plumbing inspections, contact Inspection Services at (559) 621-8116 to schedule an inspection.

Permitting Process – Well Abandonment and Destruction

Although the City has prohibitions against the drilling of new private supply water wells, there are certain situations in which exceptions are allowed.  A permit is required for the installation or destruction of the following types of wells:  water wells, monitoring wells, cathodic protection wells, geotechnical wells, and environmental wells. 


The following steps must be completed to properly install or destroy a well:

  1. Determine the specific requirements for the installation or destruction of the well. 

    Specific requirements will be dependent upon the nature of the well.  For example, an encroachment permit and/or traffic control may be needed from the Streets Division to encroach on a public right-of-way.

    To obtain the specific requirements for a project, contact City of Fresno’s 3-1-1 within City limits or calling (559) 621-CITY (2489).

    Permit Application to Install, Modify, and Destroy Wells
  2. Obtain & complete application.

    Applications are available in PDF form for download below, or hard copies can be requested by contacting the City of Fresno’s 311 by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or calling (559) 621-CITY (2489).

    Permit Application to Install, Modify, and Destroy Wells
  3. Pay permitting & inspection process fees.

    To make an appointment for payment of fees, contact the City of Fresno’s 311 by dialing 3-1-1 within City limits or calling (559) 621-CITY (2489).
  4. Submit application

    Completed applications may be submitted via email to John Martin at [email protected] or in person at Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93721 – Room 4019.    


Fire Hydrant Use and Travel Meters

No person other than an authorized City employee may use water from or connect any apparatus to a fire hydrant – either public or private.  When it is necessary to use water temporarily in connection with any type of construction or other operation at a place where the supply is inadequate for such purposes, an application for a Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant Permit and travel meter may be submitted to the Water Division. 

Additional information about fire hydrants can be found in the flyer and video below.


Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant Permits are issued for a maximum of six (6) months and can be obtained through the Water Division by following the steps below: 

  1. Obtain and complete a Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant application.

    Applications are available in PDF form for download below, or hard copies can be requested by calling (559) 621-5378

    Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant Permit
  2. Submit the completed Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant application and pay the required deposit and permit fees.

    Completed applications and fees must be submitted in person to the Water Division (1910 E. University Avenue).
  3. Once the application is approved, a Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant Permit, a travel meter, and a hydrant wrench (if applicable) will be issued.

For additional information about Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant Permits, call (559) 621-5378


As outlined in the Master Fee Schedule , a fine of $500 will be assessed for the first unauthorized use of a fire hydrant.  Each violation thereafter will be assessed a $1,000 fine.

Additionally, according to FMC Section 6-534(f), the applicable water rate shall be doubled for water used in violation, subject to the minimum charge.

No Temporary Use of Fire Hydrant Permit will be issued to any person until all fines and charges are paid.