Water quality FAQs

Welcome to our FAQs on water quality, where we address common questions and concerns regarding the safety, taste, and reliability of your tap water. Understanding the importance of clean and healthy water is paramount, and we're here to provide you with clear and informative answers. Whether you're curious about the treatment process, interested in the factors affecting water quality, or simply seeking reassurance about the water you consume daily, our FAQs are designed to empower you with knowledge and confidence. Dive in to discover everything you need to know about how we ensure the highest standards of water quality in our community.

The City of Santa Ana is committed to ensuring the safety and quality of our drinking water. The lead issue in Flint, Michigan, in 2016 highlighted the importance of addressing lead in drinking water systems. Unlike Flint, our water supply does not contain lead, and we adhere to strict regulatory standards to safeguard public health. Here’s what you need to know:

  • We conduct regular testing of water within our distribution system to monitor lead levels in accordance with the Lead & Copper Rule (LCR) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Our latest city-wide test for lead, conducted independently in 2021, yielded results that were fully compliant with the LCR.
  • Santa Ana’s water supply is non-corrosive, helping to prevent the leaching of lead from plumbing fixtures.
  • We do not have any lead pipes in our distribution system, further ensuring the absence of lead contamination. For more detailed information on the quality of Santa Ana’s water, you can review our Water Quality Report found here.
  • In 2021, 123 residences were tested for lead and copper at-the-tap. Lead was detected in 4 samples, none of which exceeded the Action Level for lead.


Lead In Residential Plumbing

Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The City of Santa Ana is responsible for providing high quality drinking water but cannot control the variety of materials used in a home’s plumbing components.



If you live in an older house that has copper piping with lead solder, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure. When your water has been sitting for several hours in the pipes, simply flush your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you do so, consider collecting the flushed water and reuse it for another beneficial purpose, such as watering plants. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure are available from the U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or at www.epa.gov/lead.

The City of Santa Ana is working with Orange County’s Health Care Agency and their selected contractor Azure Community Development to offer a lead testing and abatement program available to Santa Ana households. To view the eligibility checklist and complete the pre-screening questionnaire click here.


The taste or smell of your water may change throughout the year because the City of Santa Ana uses a blend of two water sources. About 77 percent of our water comes from local groundwater, while the rest is imported from Metropolitan Water District (MWD). MWD gets water from the Colorado River and Northern California, treating it with chloramines at their filtration plant. We also treat local well water with chlorine. This blend of waters can result in different tastes or mineral levels in your water at different times. However, these variations don’t affect water safety. Regular testing and monitoring by the City of Santa Ana help ensure that water quality meets regulatory standards year-round. In addition to providing high-quality water at lower costs, using different water sources benefits our customers by improving supply reliability.

It’s not the water itself that smells. In fact, the City of Santa Ana conducts regular monitoring tests throughout the water distribution system to check for any odors. This issue is typically related to organic materials that have been discarded into a kitchen drain or another sink. Over time, these materials can accumulate and decay within the drain, creating an unpleasant odor. There could also be bacteria locked in the P-trap of your bathroom sink drain or a buildup of bacteria in your pipes.

To remedy this issue, routinely clean drain stoppers, faucet aerators and flush the P-trap and/or garbage disposal, the sink and the overflow with a solution of household chlorine bleach. If this awful rotten-egg smell is persistent and the issues continue, you may need to contact a qualified plumber to address it.

Tap water can sometimes appear cloudy which is often mistaken for an impurity in the water. Cloudy water, also commonly described as milky white, hazy, soapy or foamy, is usually caused by air in the water. How does this happen? About 70% of our water comes from local wells. The well water we supply is pumped from hundreds of feet below the ground and that pumping process can sometimes result in aeration, or the mixing of air with water. Also, when making changes to your home’s plumbing, such as replacing a water heater or faucet fixtures, it is common for air to enter the pipes when they are repressurized. Aeration creates small bubbles in the water that are harmless but may give the water a cloudy appearance. If your water looks cloudy, pour some water into a clear glass and set it on the counter. Observe the glass of water for a few minutes. If the white color is due to air, the air bubbles will rise to the top of the glass and disappear.

No, it’s unnecessary! Bottled water and tap water are regulated by different agencies. Tap water actually has more stringent reporting requirements, such as providing customers with a printed Water Quality Report each year. Bottled water suppliers aren’t required to share this data, but some might if asked. The water from the City of Santa Ana is clean, high quality and safe to drink, much less expensive and more environmentally friendly than bottled water. Before switching to bottled water or a filter, compare the data from the City of Santa Ana’s Annual Water Quality Report with the data from the bottled water or filtration device you’re thinking about. The choice between bottled water or a filter should depend on preferences, not concerns about health risks.

Tap water hardness varies because it absorbs minerals like calcium and magnesium as it passes through soil and rock. These minerals aren’t harmful and can actually supplement essential nutrients in your body. In Santa Ana, as in much of Southern California, hard water is common due to elevated levels of these minerals. Santa Ana’s water has a hardness of about 250 parts per million or approximately 15 grains per gallon.

While the taste of drinking water is subjective and varies among individuals, some residents choose to use water softening treatment systems for their homes or businesses. The City of Santa Ana does not endorse or recommend any specific systems. However, if you are interested in exploring water filter options, the California Water Board website provides a comprehensive list of hundreds of registered Residential Water Treatment Devices. Visit this webpage to find a filter that meets your specific needs. When selecting one, consider capacity, regeneration method, warranty, and manufacturer reputation.

The white residue or spots on your glassware are typically caused by minerals like calcium and magnesium found naturally in water. These minerals are common in what’s known as “hard” water. However, they don’t pose any health risks; in fact, they can contribute to your daily intake of calcium and magnesium, which are important nutrients according to the National Research Council. Many people even prefer the taste and health benefits of water with these minerals over distilled or “soft” water.

To remove these mineral deposits from your cookware, you can boil a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Similarly, to clean your coffee maker, fill the reservoir with the same vinegar-water mixture and run a cycle.

Water pressure in Santa Ana can vary from around 50 psi to 100 psi across the distribution system. This fluctuation happens because of routine water system operations and peak water use times. Factors like building water softeners, plumbing restrictions, and point-of-use treatment devices can also influence water pressure on your property. The City can’t adjust water pressure at individual addresses. However, if you’re dealing with high water pressure, you can take steps to address it. For instance, you can install or replace a pressure regulator on your property to lower high water pressure.

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