Water Quality FAQs

Is my drinking water safe?

Yes. The City of Huntington Beach water meets or exceeds 100% of all state and federal drinking water standards.

Why does my water taste or smell differently during different times of year?

Like other public water agencies in Orange County, Huntington Beach depends on two sources of water. Typically, about 75% of our total domestic water supply is local groundwater pumped from wells and the remaining 25% is imported treated surface water purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD imports water from the Colorado River via the Colorado River Aqueduct and from Northern California via the California Aqueduct, also known as the State Water Project.

Imported surface water is treated at MWD's water treatment plants and disinfected using chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Huntington Beach Utilities Division uses chlorine to disinfect well water as it enters the distribution system. Because water sources vary or may be a blend of these two supplies, you may notice a difference in the taste or hardness (mineral content) of the water at various times of the year. None of these factors affects the quality and safety of your water.

Having multiple sources of water is beneficial for Huntington Beach customers. Local groundwater is both high in quality and lower in cost than imported water, which must travel hundreds of miles through aqueduct systems and filtered at water treatment plants. Having more than one source also improves the overall reliability of our water supply.


Why does my water sometimes look cloudy?

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. This can occur naturally and is caused by dissolved air in the water that is released when the faucet is opened.

Our water comes from the Colorado River, Northern California and local wells, with the mix varying throughout the year. The well water that Huntington Beach Utilities Division supplies is pumped from hundreds of feet below the ground. That pumping process can sometimes result in aeration, or the mixing of air with water. Aeration creates small bubbles in the water that are harmless but may give the water a cloudy appearance. Tip: If your water looks cloudy, pour some water into a clear glass and set it on the counter. Observe the glass of water for two to three minutes. If the white color is due to air, the water will begin to clear at the bottom of the glass first and then gradually will clear all the way to the top.


Do I need bottled or filtered water for safety?

Since Huntington Beach’s water meets all state and federal drinking water standards it is not necessary to filter your water or use bottled water. Bottled water and tap water are regulated by different agencies. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the main federal law that ensures the quality of your tap water. Under SDWA, the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality and mandates that water purveyors provide customer access to a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as a water quality report, each year. The City of Huntington Beach Drinking Water Quality Report is updated annually and can be found at: https://huntingtonbeachca.gov/government/departments/public_works/utilities/

Bottled water suppliers are not required to provide such data, but some may do so on request.

The water provided to you by the Huntington Beach Utilities Division is clean, pure and ready to drink at a fraction of the cost of bottled water. Before choosing an alternative to tap water, compare the data contained in the City of Huntington Beach Annual Water Quality Report with water quality data from the bottled water or filtration device you are considering. The decision to use bottled water or a filtration system should be based on taste or other aesthetic considerations, not due to health or safety concerns.


Do we have hard water?

Water is considered “hard” if it contains relatively high levels of minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. These two naturally occurring minerals are not a health concern, and in fact, hard water actually supplements your body’s need for these vital nutrients. Water hardness is commonly expressed in "grains per gallon" of hardness. Generally, water with ten grains or more is considered "hard". Water imported from the Colorado River and Northern California averages seven grains of hardness while Huntington Beach's well water averages 14 grains of hardness.

Although the hardness of the water does not affect its safety, the higher mineral content can cause white spots on glassware in the dishwasher. The Huntington Beach water supply is blended from a variety of sources that change throughout the year, therefore the amount of hardness and mineral content will also vary.

If you are concerned with hard water and spotting, it is best to read the owner's manual for your dishwasher and follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding settings for hard water. Some other tips that may help reduce spotting include using more cold water instead of hot, varying the brand and type of rinse agent and detergent, and occasionally adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the dishwasher.

If you are programming an appliance, you can dial in the hardness setting to 12 grains per gallon (average amount of groundwater and import water). Further adjustments may be necessary since the amount of hardness can fluctuate throughout the year. For additional questions about hardness in Huntington Beach water, please contact the Huntington Beach Utilities Division - Water Quality office at (714) 536-5921.


Why does my water have fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound in surface water (lakes, rivers & oceans) and groundwater (water from rain that soaks through the soil and into an underground aquifer). In addition to the natural levels, the Huntington Beach Utilities Division adds a small amount of fluoride to the groundwater to promote dental benefits per a majority vote of the community during the early 1970’s. In addition, the Metropolitan Water District also adds fluoride to the imported surface water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fluoridation of the community drinking water is the most cost effective and safe way to reduce and control tooth decay. More than 50 years of scientific research has led to the conclusion that people who live in communities with fluoridated water have healthier teeth and fewer cavities than those living where water is not fluoridated.

Huntington Beach’s water is fluoridated to maintain a level of 0.6 to 1.2 parts per million, per State regulations.

Most water filters and boiling will not remove fluoride from tap water. Home water treatment units that use reverse osmosis membrane filters can effectively remove fluoride.


Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

Is the smell coming from all taps or just one? The best way to determine this is the “glass test”. To do this, draw a glass of water, turn off the faucet and walk away from the sink into another room with the glass in hand. Once you walk away into the other room, smell the water in the glass. If the odor is no longer evident when you have walked away, then it can be concluded that the odor is coming from the sink drain and not the water.

The odor comes from material such as hair or food particles decomposing in the drain area. To get rid of the odor and prevent odors from returning, 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.

Is the problem tap one that is seldom used (such as a guest bathroom)? Or, is the whole house involved? Did you recently return from vacation? Often when a sink or shower is not used for a period of time, the material in the drain remains odorless until water is first turned on. When water hits the built-up material, odor is generated. Use the same bleach flushing suggestion as above.

Is the odor noticed only in hot water? If it's coming from just the hot water, your water heater may need flushing. Annual flushing of the hot water heater should keep the problem from returning. Hot water heater odors can also result from having the temperature set too low.


Why do I have colored water coming out of my faucets?

Color is usually the result of natural minerals and other harmless sediment that can accumulate in the bottom of water mains and is not a health hazard. Minerals and sediment can get stirred up in mains when there is a disturbance in the distribution system, then typically quickly settles down. A few examples that can cause a disturbance could be due to nearby firefighting activities, construction in the area, street sweepers drawing off a hydrant, valves opened or closed too quickly during maintenance, hydrants hit in traffic accidents or a water main break. The City periodically flushes fire hydrants and water mains to prevent colored water problems and to eliminate sedimentation build up in the lines.

Is the color in the hot or cold water? If the color is noticed only on the hot water line this may indicate that the hot water heater needs to be serviced and flushed according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

To clear the color out of a cold water line at a residence, it is recommended that you let the water settle for 30 minutes and then follow these steps:

1. Flush water at the front hose bib for 2-5 minutes. If clear, continue to Step #2. If the color persists, turn the hose bib off and try again in 30 minutes.

2. Once it is clear at the hose bib, flush sink cold taps throughout the residence, one sink at a time.

3. Flush tubs and showers.

4. Lastly, flush toilets (may take 3-4 flushes to clear).

If the water has not cleared after this process, please contact the Huntington Beach Utilities Division - Water Quality office at 714-536-5921.


Why does it look like there is sand or tiny rocks in my faucet aerators and showerheads?

Improperly maintained tankless water heaters and/or recirculating hot water systems can cause clogging of faucet aerators and showerheads. Most manufacturers recommend all water heaters be serviced, flushed and maintained on a yearly basis. Naturally occurring calcium in tap water can precipitate out because of rapid heating of the water by the tankless heater, or recirculating repeatedly in a pumping system. Tip: You may consider turning off a hot water recirculation pump when leaving your residence for an extended period (seasonal vacation home, etc.) to prevent the system from recirculating repeatedly and collecting mineral sediment. Water lines not routinely flushed and maintained can accumulate calcium deposits in piping systems and can clog fixtures.


What could cause black particles in my water?

Are black particles noticed at one sink or fixture or are they throughout the house? If it appears as though there are small black particles in your water at one fixture, it is usually the result of degradation of the rubber or elastomer linings on older stainless steel braided flex connections to water faucets or the rubber flapper in a toilet tank. Over time, disinfectant residuals can break down the rubber or lining and cause soft, black flakes in the water that often have a greasy appearance. It is recommended to replace any old damaged parts or materials.


Is water treated with chlorine or chloramines hazardous to some pets?

Huntington Beach Utilities Division uses chlorine in its drinking water to maintain a disinfection residual in the distribution system. Huntington Beach also receives imported water from the Metropolitan Water District that uses chloramines to maintain a disinfection residual, which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. These disinfectants are safe for almost all pets; however, both chlorine and ammonia can be toxic to fish. Water containing chlorine or chloramines may be treated in various ways, including the use of commercial products found in pet supply stores. Customers should discuss proper treatment options with their tropical fish supplier to determine methods for removing disinfectants in tap water prior to its use in fish tanks or ponds.



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Contact Information

City of Huntington Beach
Public Works Department
2000 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA
Phone: (714) 536-5431
Fax: (714) 374-1573
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