Water Resources

 Water Header.png

View the City of Palo Alto's Annual Water Quality Report(PDF, 14MB). Also available in Spanish(PDF, 694KB) and Traditional Chinese(PDF, 883KB)

Local Water Supply

Palo Alto’s water comes from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). This high quality water supply consists almost entirely of Sierra Nevada snowmelt delivered through the Hetch Hetchy water distribution system.  Precipitation levels can vary greatly within any given year. Even though we may experience periods of wet weather, a warm dry spell can affect water supplies later in the year. These climate conditions, along with our limited long-term water supplies, mean it is in our best interest to use water as efficiently as possible, regardless of drought conditions. Learn more about the City of Palo Alto's Urban Water Management Plan.

Helpful Information about Your Water Supply

This new video from our friends at BAWSCA talks about our precious water supply & how membership in this agency has helped CPAU, among other member agencies, protect our high-quality water at a fair price. 

Current Water Source Blend

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) Water Blend Updates

Due to seasonal supply management, the SFPUC will start up the Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant (HTWTP) and place the Sunol Valley Water Treatment Plant (SVWTP) on standby on November 1. This supply change will be followed by a Hetch Hetchy rate increase from 175 to 200 MGD on November 2. 

The following table compares water quality parameters at Irvington Portal before and after the supply change. Projections are based on the most recent sampling results. Some fluctuations in water quality parameters may occur while adjustments are made during the source water transition.

Parameter As of October 25, 2022 As of November 3, 2022
 HH Flow (MGD) 175 200
HTWTP Flow (MGD) 0 30
 SVWTP Flow (MGD) 30 0
 SFPUC-SCVWD Intertie (MGD) 0 0
 Total Chlorine Residual (mg/L) 3.4 3.3
 Free Ammonia-N (mg/L) 0.06 0.04
 pH 9.3 9.6
 Turbidity (NTU) 0.2 0.2
 Conductivity (uS/cm) 88 41
 Hardness (mg/L) 18 9
 Alkalinity (mg/L) 23 10
 TOC (mg/L) 1.5 1.6

Annual Consumer Confidence (Water Quality) Report

The City of Palo Alto Utilities and our water supplier are required by law to adhere to strict health and safety standards for potable drinking water. Every year we publish an Annual Consumer Confidence Report which informs customers about the City's water quality. Past annual reports are provided below on this page.  If you would like a copy of the report mailed to you, please email us at utilitiescommunications@cityofpaloalto.org or call (650) 329-2479 to submit a request. Click here for the 2016 Public Health Goals ReportRead about tap water quality versus bottled water. 

View the 2021 Annual Water Quality Report(PDF, 14MB). Also available in Spanish(PDF, 694KB) and Traditional Chinese(PDF, 883KB)

Recycled Water & Other Alternative Water Sources

  • Recycled water is available from the Regional Water Quality Control Plant for use with construction activities and landscape irrigation.
  • Read information on how to use Recycled Water here, including how to obtain the necessary permit.
  • Interested in opportunities for reusing water that is "dewatered" or pumped from the ground during construction projects? Read our FAQs.

Water Distribution System Flushing

City staff need to periodically flush water mains and hydrants with fresh water to prevent the water quality from degrading. This is more frequently needed in areas where a cul-de-sac or end-of-the-line piping tend to accumulate vegetation, algae or sediment. Flushing is necessary to keep debris out of customers' service line. We post signs at each site to let people know that this is being done.  We monitor our water quality every day to ensure that it meets all State and Federal guidelines for drinking water quality standards. If a customer experiences discoloration or sediment in water coming from the tap, they should flush the cold (not hot) water for a minute or more until the water clears.

Flushing Guidance for Buildings Following Shutdown

Businesses are returning to work after an extended shutdown due to COVID-19 public health shelter in place orders. If a building has been vacant and dormant, water use has been reduced, which could result in a degradation in water quality. Stagnant water can harbor bacteria, so it is important to flush your water system before you begin using the water again. Our water supplier has provided guidance with steps to take when restoring water service.  

Lead

The City of Palo Alto takes its responsibility to protect customers from lead exposure very seriously. Palo Alto Utilities does not have lead services or other equipment in our system, though we still perform sampling to ensure clean, safe drinking water quality. The City of Palo Alto’s lead sampling technique uses best practices for accurate water quality testing. If you have questions about the City's lead or other water quality testing procedures, please contact our Water Transmission Staff at (650) 496-6967.

Fluoride

Get the facts about fluoride in drinking water. Read more from the Centers for Disease ControlAmerican Dental Association, and DrinkTap.org. You also read more at the SFPUC fluoridation page

Chromium 6

Chromium is an abundant element in the Earth’s crust, found naturally in rocks, plants, soil and volcanic dust, humans and animals. One form, hexavalent chromium, is widely found in waters, including source waters for drinking water, typically at VERY low concentration levels. Chromium 6 is not a concern in Palo Alto. The water supplies we receive from the SFPUC fully comply with the new California Chromium 6 MCL standard finalized in July 2014.