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On May 31, 2018, Governor Brown signed two bills which build on the ongoing efforts to “make conservation a California way of life”. Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606 provide an interrelated framework intended to strengthen the state’s water resiliency in the face of future droughts by establishing standards and guidelines for efficient water use.
What do the new laws state?
Many details for implementing the new laws will be determined over the next couple of years, and there are no immediate impacts to customers. The laws provide a framework for water providers to set new, permanent water use targets by 2022 that combine:
How will the new laws impact customers?
There are no immediate impacts to customers. Over the next several years, specific water use targets will be set for a water provider’s overall service area (not on an individual basis) based upon the standards outlined in the laws. Once water provider-level targets are established in 2022 and implementation begins in 2023, water providers may choose to work with individual households and businesses to increase their water efficiency through available rebates, services and programs.
Will it be illegal to take a shower and wash clothes in the same day, as some media have reported?
No. There is nothing in the laws that specifies when or how often a person may shower or do laundry. The new laws outline an overall framework for setting and meeting water use targets at the water provider level. While the laws’ framework does include a goal for individual indoor water use of 55 gallons per person per day beginning in 2022, this applies on an overall system-wide basis (and not an individual basis).
How hard will it be to meet the indoor target of 55 gallons per person per day?
It should not be hard. It’s important to note that the indoor target of 55 gallons per person per day is not a goal for individual water use but will be measured across a water provider’s entire service area and does not include outdoor water use. That said, water industry experts are projecting that many people are already meeting this indoor target or do not have far to go. The Alliance for Water Efficiency has an online water calculator that can estimate how much water a household uses indoors. You can find it at www.home-water-works.org/calculator. Additionally, many water providers including RPU offer rebates for indoor fixtures like toilets and clothes washers to incentive customers to upgrade to more efficient WaterSense and ENERGY STAR labeled models.
Will water providers be monitoring and evaluating individual water use as part of the new laws?
No. There is no requirement in the new laws that individual households must meet a specific target. The new laws provide a framework for setting targets, but those will be applied on a system-wide basis, and progress toward achieving targets will be reviewed on a system-wide basis.
How will the new laws impact businesses in California?
While the new laws do not set specific water use targets for business, they do outline a framework for creating new water efficiency performance measures for businesses—these are recommended actions for specific business sectors to improve water efficiency over time. Performance measures will be determined over the next several years, and the process will include opportunities for public input.
Will individual residents and businesses be fined for not meeting water use targets?
The regulations and associated water use targets are required for the water provider as a whole (including all customers) NOT at the individual resident or business level. Therefore, individuals and businesses will not be fined by the state for not meeting the water provider water use target. However, individuals and businesses may be fined for violating current local water provider water waste ordinances and guidelines. Note that such ordinances and guidelines exist currently and are not new.
What is RPU doing to prepare for the implementation of these laws?
RPU is closely monitoring the rule making process to see what the targets will be set to. RPU will decide how to best meet the targets—through water-wise rebates, infrastructure improvements, outdoor watering guidelines and/or other efforts. RPU will continue to offer rebates and services to help customers use water wisely, including incentives to upgrade to more efficient toilets, clothes washers, and irrigation equipment. You can learn more on the Water Rebates page.
What are the next steps for implementing the new laws?
The laws will now be translated into regulations, which will outline details and rules for implementing the intent of the laws at the local level. Stakeholders (water providers, non-profit organizations and other interested parties) will work together over the next years with state agencies (including the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Water Resources) to finalize the regulations by the required deadline of 2022.
Why was the new law created?
The new rules were prompted by California’s frequent cycles of drought and are meant to better prepare California for the next drought and the future effects of climate change on the state’s water supplies. The overall goal is to make water conservation a way of life in California and a permanent part of the state’s culture.
When will the new water conservation targets take effect?
Water providers must set new water conservation targets by 2022 and will be expected to begin implementing them by 2023 and every year after that. Again, these targets are service-area wide and not for individual households.
Will residents have to go back to saving water as they did during the drought?
No. The new laws create long term water use targets not short-term conservation targets like those implemented during the drought. The long-term targets are meant to inspire greater efficiency over time rather than mandate short-term cutbacks that require extreme measures such as not watering your lawn or flushing the toilet less.
We take our water quality very seriously. That is why we perform more than 22,000 water quality tests from well to tap each year, ensuring our customers receive only water that meets or surpasses all state and federal regulations for drinking water quality.
Each year, by mandate of the State Board of Water Resources and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RPU creates the Water Quality Annual Report to inform consumers about their water supplies. In June, the report is published with the previous year’s data and sent to customers with their bills.
Is my water from Riverside Public Utilities safe?
YES. Riverside Public Utilities water meets or surpasses all State Water Resources Control Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinking water quality.
Where does RPU’s water come from?
All of RPU’s water comes from groundwater resources in the San Bernardino, Bunker Hill, and Riverside Basins.
Do I need a water filter to make my water drinkable?
NO. RPU’s water has a trace amount of chlorine that helps to purify the water and prevent harmful bacteria and viruses from growing in it. However, if you wish to remove the chlorine from you water, there are carbon filters designed for this purpose.
What helps keep my water safe?
Testing and monitoring. RPU tests for over 200 possible chemical contaminants that may affect our groundwater resources, performing more than 22,000 water quality test per year to ensure that we supply reliable, high quality and safe drinking water.
Who tests Riverside’s water?
RPU’s water sources are rigorously tested by a private laboratory certified by the state which is evaluated annually to ensure its ability to perform the testing.
I have additional questions about water quality. How can I get more information?
Call us. Contact our Customer Call Center at (951) 826-5311.
On March 15, 2019 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) ordered water agencies throughout California to test for a group of chemicals known as PFAS over the course of four quarters (12 months) in drinking water wells.
PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a large group of manufactured substances that do not occur naturally in the environment and are resistant to heat, water, and oil. PFAS have been used in a range of industrial and everyday consumer products, such as surface coating for carpeting and upholstery, food paper wrappings, nonstick cookware and fire-fighting foams. Due to the fact that PFAS have been widely used since the 1940s, and that they are nearly indestructible, PFAS have been found both in the environment and in blood samples of people tested.
These substances are persistent in the environment, can accumulate within the human body over time, and are toxic at relatively low concentrations.
Specifically, Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), two types of the PFAS group, are no longer manufactured or imported into the United States; however, there could be some imported goods containing trace amounts of these substances remaining in the U.S.
Exposure to unsafe levels of PFOA/PFOS may result in adverse health effects including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy, cancer, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid effects, and other effects (such as cholesterol changes).
The four major sources of PFAS are: fire foams used in fire training/fire response sites, industrial and manufacturing sites, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. PFAS can get into drinking water when products containing them are used or spilled onto the ground or into lakes and rivers. Once in groundwater, PFAS can easily travel long distances and can contaminate the soil and drinking water. PFAS can also be released in the air, which can also end up in rivers and lakes used for drinking water.
Notification Level - A level of a contaminant in drinking water delivered for human consumption that the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) has determined, based on available scientific information, does not pose a significant health risk but warrants notification pursuant to the California Health & Safety Code section 116455. Notification Levels are non-regulatory, health-based advisory levels established by DDW when there is no maximum contaminant level (MCL) established.
Response Level - A concentration of a contaminant in drinking water delivered for human consumption that DDW recommends that additional steps, beyond a Notification Level be taken to reduce exposure to the contaminant. Response Levels are non-regulatory, health-based advisory levels established by DDW when there is no MCL. The Response Level for PFOA and PFOS is currently 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively.
Public Health Goal - A public health goal (PHG) is a level of a contaminant in drinking water that does not pose a significant health risk. A PHG reflects the risk from long-term exposure to a contaminant and should not be used to estimate risks from short-term or acute exposure. Developed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), PHGs are not regulatory requirements, but instead represent non-mandatory goals.
Maximum Contaminant Level
Maximum contaminant level (MCL) is a health protective drinking water standard to be met by public water systems. MCL take into account the chemical's health risks, ability for detectability and treatability, as well as costs of treatment. Health & Safety Code §116365(a) requires a contaminant's MCL to be established at a level as close to its PHG as is technologically and economically feasible, placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health. The MCL is the regulated and enforceable level that water supplier must not exceed.
On August 23, 2019 the SWRCB announced it is lowering the notification levels for PFAS. As shown in Table 1, the new notification levels are provided below. A ppt is the equivalent of four grains of sugar dissolved in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. On February 6, 2020, SWRCB eliminated the combined 70 parts per trillion (ppt)response level for PFAS and established individual repsonse levels for PFOA and PFOS at 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively.
Table 1. State of California PFOS/PFOA Limits
70 ppt combined
RPU has not detected PFAS above the notification levels in water distributed to its customers. RPU will continue to monitor for PFAS, and will report the data to the public in the annual Water Quality Report that will be published at the end of the fiscal year on http://www.riversidepublicutilities.com/residents/your-water.asp.
RPU, along with other water and wastewater agencies in California, requested the SWRCB conduct the formal process to establish a Public Health Goal for PFAS. RPU management and staff will remain engaged during this process.
More information on PFAS is available from The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB): http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/pfas/ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): www.epa.gov/pfas/. For additional questions, contact RPU water system representatives at (951) 351-6370 or our Customer Call Center at (951) 826-5311.
As water travels over the surface of land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals, and in some cases can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or human activity.
Testing - RPU sends water samples to an independent state-verified laboratory that test for 200 possible chemical contaminants in our water supply.
Only those chemicals that are found in the system are reported in the Water Quality Annual Report each year. The latest state-of-the-art testing equipment can detect contaminants down to parts per million (ppm), parts per billion (ppb), and even parts per trillion (ppt).
Treatment & Blending – RPU has treatment plants that help to clean water from any contaminants and we blend all water sources at a central location before it enters our distribution systems.
Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) – This is the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set to protect the odor, taste, and appearance of drinking water.
Public Health Goal (PHG) – California’s Environmental Protection Agency sets PHGs based on the level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected health risks.
Parts Per Million (ppm) – Imagine one penny in $10,000, and that’s what one part per billion looks like.
Parts Per Billion (ppb) – While one part per billion is that same penny in $10 million.
Water is essential to all life on Earth, so when issues about water quality come up, it gets everybody’s attention and consumers begin to question whether their water sources are safe.
For example, an environmental group based out of Washington, D.C. published a study in 2009 that they say showed the worst water providers in the country. However, they were using untreated groundwater sampling data, not the high quality, treated tap water that comes out of your faucet for their study.
But the media had picked up the story and made consumers panic and utilities had to assure customers that their water was safe.
Meanwhile, a problem of our new age is that bloggers, tweeters, and the web itself keep information indefinitely. So this incorrect news can pop up again and again, causing the same questions and concerns from customers each time.
So what to do? Stay informed, and if you have questions about your water quality call us. Riverside Public Utilities Water System representatives are available at (951) 351-6370 or you can talk to a Customer Service representative at (951) 782-0330 or by dialing 311.
To help answer some questions about key water issues in the news, we’ve compiled this data for you to review and share with your family and friends.
Chromium – Chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element that is found naturally in rocks, plants, soil and volcanic dust, and animals.
The most common forms of chromium that occur in natural waters in the environment are: Trivalent chromium (chromium-3) and Hexavalent chromium (chromium-6). Chromium-3 is an essential human dietary element that can be found in many vegetables, fruits, meats, grains, and yeast.
Chromium-6 occurs naturally in the environment from the erosion of natural chromium deposits. It can also be produced by industrial processes. There are demonstrated instances of chromium being released to the environment by leakage, poor storage, or inadequate industrial waste disposal practices.
Most hexavalent chromium in Riverside Public Utilities’ water is the result of degrading granite far below the ground, and has been occurring for thousands of years. Thus, hundreds of generations have been drinking water with the same levels of chromium that we experience today.
Lead – Elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems. Primarily, lead in drinking water comes from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. If you have older plumbing that may contain lead, flush the tap for 30 seconds to two minutes to try and minimize potential lead exposure.
Perchlorate – Perchlorate is a regulated drinking water contaminant in California that has a maximum contaminant level of 6 parts per billion. Perchlorate salts were used in solid rocket propellants and other industrial applications. Once an issue with some of Riverside’s water supply, perchlorate is now non detectable in RPU’s water.
For detailed results of our recent lead sampling that meets the recommendations by the state, see the 2016 LCR monitoring status. You may also wish to view the USEPA Consumer Information Lead and Copper page.
Find out about the water service a typical residential water bill covers, and the costs of delivering a consistent, reliable flow of safe and affordable drinking water to your faucet.
These Frequently Asked Questions will help you to understand why recycled water is good for our community. Learn more about RPU's recycled water projects.
Riverside Public Utilities continues to enhance the City of Riverside’s water supply reliability through a comprehensive recycled water program. The use of recycled water frees up drinking water supply, avoids costly imported water supplies and increases our water supply reliability. Every gallon of recycled water used results in a gallon of drinking water saved.
What is recycled water?
Recycled water, also called reclaimed water, is highly treated wastewater that can be reused again for a variety of purposes, including agriculture and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, and replenishing groundwater basins.
Is it safe for children and pets to play on grass irrigated by recycled water?
Yes, the California Department of Health Services has very high treatment standards for recycled water. Riverside Public Utilities recycled water meets or exceeds all State standards for water used for irrigation and other uses with similar public exposure.
What is recycled water used for?
The State has identified approved uses for recycled water in California based on the level of treatment. Riverside Public Utilities produces and distributes disinfected, tertiary treated recycled water (water treated three times). This water can be used for landscape irrigation and replenishing groundwater basins. This water is not approved for drinking.
What makes recycled water safe?
The State of California regulates how recycled water can be used. Recycled water gets treated three times at water reclamation plants. During the first treatment, large solids are removed. The second treatment uses bacteria to remove approximately 90% to 95% of the remaining solids and uses a disinfectant, such as chlorine, to destroy bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. The third treatment process includes filtration and reverse osmosis as required. The treatment methods duplicate and accelerate nature’s purifying actions. Riverside Public Utilities produces and distributes disinfected recycled water, which is treated three times.
Is recycled water regulated?
Yes. There are a variety of laws, regulations and statewide policies that govern how recycled water is defined, what it can be used for, and under what conditions. California laws regulating recycled water are located in the Health and Safety Code, the Water Code, and Titles 17 and 22 of the California Code of Regulations. Title 17 of the California Code of Regulation describes the requirements for backflow prevention devices required at a site when recycled water is used. The requirements prevent recycled water from getting into the public drinking water system in the event a cross-connection occurs where recycled water is used. Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations describes the treatment requirements for recycled water, as well as approved uses based on the level treatment. Also included in Title 22 are the Use Area Requirements which describe restrictions of recycled water uses and the requirement to notify the public through signage that a site is using recycled water.
What is Purple Pipe?
Recycled water is delivered through a parallel distribution system that is completely separate from the drinking water infrastructure. This separate system uses what is known internationally as “Purple Pipe” to keep these valuable sources of water separate and make recycled water system easily identifiable. The use of Purple Pipe infrastructure helps ensure that cross-connections between two systems do not occur.
Can I get recycled water at my property?
The Jackson Street Recycled Water Pipeline Project will expand the recycled water line by a little more than three miles along Jackson Street (Please see Project Map). The first phase of the project will serve schools, parks and select industrial customers along the pipeline.
California Drinking Water-Related Laws
Division of Drinking Water’s Recycled Water Information
California Department of Water Resources
California Water Resources Control Board
Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Board