Water Quality

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View this Topic Paper as a PDF: Water Quality
To view TMWA's annual Water Quality Report, click here.

How clean is TMWA's water?

Thanks to sources of high-quality water, skilled staff, and efficient water treatment facilities, Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) provides some of the best quality water in the nation. We go to great lengths to ensure your tap water is safe, clean and reliable.

What are the sources of our water? 

Most of our drinking water comes from the Truckee River, which originates at Lake Tahoe and is fed by snow melt and rain throughout the Tahoe and Truckee River basins in the Sierra Nevada. The remainder comes from more than 90 wells drilled in deep-water aquifers located within TMWA’s service area. TMWA also has a small number of satellite water systems that are fed exclusively by ground water.

Why is protecting the Truckee River important?

As the major source of our water supply, the Truckee River’s environmental health can directly impact human health. Preventing pollution is far less expensive than spending money on water treatment. Protecting this remarkable jewel in our semi-arid region benefits the water supply as well as fish and wildlife habitat and recreation.

Are TMWA's water system facilities up to date? 

Yes. Two top-notch treatment facilities serve TMWA customers: the Chalk Bluff Water Treatment Plant in northwest Reno and the Glendale Water Treatment Plant in Sparks. TMWA is also committed to ensuring future water quality by continually improving our entire water system, both treatment and distribution facilities. Over the past ten years, we have spent more than $200 million on repairing and rehabilitating aging infrastructure. Our facilities and capital improvement plan calls for monies to be spent every year to improve aging water mains and facilities.

How does TMWA ensure our water is safe?

Water treated by TMWA meets all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, and Washoe County Health District water quality standards. In most cases, our water is significantly better than these standards require. TMWA’s professional staff of engineers, chemists, microbiologists and operators continually monitors our water quality. More than 1,000 laboratory tests are performed each month on over 180 samples taken from various locations within the TMWA distribution system. Testing is performed both at the treatment plants and throughout the distribution system to make sure high-quality water is delivered to our customers.

Frequently asked questions about water quality who regulates our drinking water?

To ensure tap water is safe to drink, the EPA develops and sets regulatory standards that limit the amount of contaminants in public water supplies. These water-quality standards are among the world’s most stringent, requiring water utilities to monitor for more than 100 contaminants. The EPA’s standards are enforced by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the Washoe County Health District.

Is it true that there is chlorine in our water? Is chlorine safe?

Since the 1800s chlorine has been used in the United States to safely and effectively disinfect drinking water. Chlorine prohibits microbiological activity and prevents disease-causing organisms from multiplying. Today, most utilities use chlorine to disinfect drinking water, under the regulation of the EPA. Studies indicate that chlorine is a safe and effective disinfectant for drinking water and TMWA keeps the chlorine dosage as low as possible while continuing to maintain adequate disinfection. Consult with your physician if you are immunosuppressed due to cancer treatment, organ transplant, HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders regarding drinking tap water and what is best for you. If you don’t care for the taste of tap water, try a drop of lemon juice or leave your water in an open pitcher before drinking.

How does TMWA tap water compare to bottled water? 

Tap water is every bit as safe as bottled water. In fact, it’s tested more, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The cost difference between tap water and bottled water is also significant. TMWA charges less than $2.00 per 1,000 gallons of treated water (first-tier residential rate), while a liter of bottled water costing roughly $1 which equates to $3,780 for 1,000 gallons of bottled water. Fill up a reusable bottle with tap water to save money and help the environment by reusing containers instead of disposing of them.

Sometimes my water is cloudy or milky when it first comes out of the faucet, what causes this and is it safe to drink?

Cloudy or milky water is caused by tiny air bubbles which becomes entrapped in the water, the bubbles will rise to the top and no longer be visible. This type of cloudiness can happen more in the winter, when the drinking water is cold, holds more air and is heated up in the plumbing. While it might be unappealing to the eye it is safe to drink.

I think my water is hard, is it safe to drink?

Hardness of water does not affect the safety or quality of your tap water, but is a personal preference. Hardness is caused by calcium and magnesium, two naturally-occurring minerals in water. The best way to determine your water hardness is to check TMWA’s website at www.tmwa.com/wqlookup. Click on your general location and you’ll see the most recent water quality data for your area, including hardness. You can also call our Water Quality Department at (775) 834-8118 or email waterquality@tmwa.com.

Does TMWA add fluoride to our water?

No. Fluoride is not added to your drinking water.

Is Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) an issue in the Truckee Meadows?

Tetrachloroethylene or PCE is a chemical that can be discharged from factories and dry cleaners. If not handled properly by these industries, it can leach into underground drinking water supplies. PCE is not found in the Truckee River, which supplies most of our region’s drinking water. Currently, five well sites employ a treatment process where PCE is removed to a non-detectable level prior to entering our water system. The cost for PCE removal is not reflected on TMWA bills, but is paid for by the Central Truckee Meadows Remediation District via property tax bills.