Water Quality: Exceeding Your Expectations

SMWD is committed to providing customers with the highest quality drinking water. Nearly 100 percent of SMWD’s water supply is surface water imported by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from the Colorado River and the Sacramento Bay Delta in Northern California.

We are vigilant in ensuring that the water we supply to our customers meets or exceeds the standards required by state and federal regulatory agencies, which include the USEPA and State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW). For more information, click here or click here.

The District conducts 24,000 to 30,000 laboratory tests each year from 39 locations across the District, representing all sources, storage reservoirs and pressure zones. SMWD’s laboratory is certified by the California Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.

The District produces an annual Water Quality Report to share the results of water quality testing from the previous year. You can download the current Water Quality Report or pick one up in person at the District’s office.

If you have any questions regarding your water quality, please contact us at 949-459-6420.


Chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element. Chromium 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)
  • Hexavalent chromium (chromium-6)

Chromium-3 is an essential human dietary element. It is 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.


Water Quality: Frequently Asked Questions

Why does drinking water sometimes look cloudy?

Cloudy water is often caused by air that enters pipes and escapes in the form of oxygen bubbles. Cloudiness created by air bubbles is not a health risk.

Air bubbles are more prevalent in cold months because water from outside pipes is colder and holds more oxygen than water in household pipes. Consequently, when the cold water enters your home and begins to warm up, the oxygen bubbles escape and cause the water to look cloudy or even milky. Construction in the distribution system can also allow air to enter the pipes and cause the appearance of cloudy water.

The air bubbles should naturally disappear in a few minutes. Test this by filling a clear container with water. After a few minutes, the air bubbles rise to the surface and the water should clear up from the bottom to the top of the container.

If the cloudiness does not disappear, please contact Customer Service at (949) 459-6420 or custservice@smwd.com.

Back to Top

What is the odor that I sometimes smell from my tap or sink faucet?

The odor you smell is most likely coming from the sink drain and not the water. Over time the plumbing beneath your sink, which is typically a u-shaped pipe, can collect debris and create an odor. If you smell an odor, fill a clean glass with tap water and smell the water in a separate room or outdoors. If the odor is no longer present, the odor is likely from the plumbing beneath your sink. To get rid of the pipe odor, pour about a half cup of liquid bleach into the drain

If the odor is not from the sink drain or the problem persists, please contact Customer Service at (949) 459-6420 or custservice@smwd.com.

Back to Top

What is the white residue that builds up on silverware, glasses and even my shower door?

The white residue commonly found in showers and kitchenware is the result of dissolved minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium.

SMWD imports a large portion of water from the Colorado River. As the water travels through rock canyons it picks up an appreciable amount of dissolved minerals, which is often referred to as “hard water”. These minerals do not pose a health risk, but may be a nuisance when they buildup on fixtures or hinder detergent performance.

Commercial products are available to remove white residue. SMWD recommends that you read the owner’s manuals for your dishwasher and washing machine for the manufacturer's recommendations regarding settings for mineral buildup or hard water.

Back to Top

Is fluoride added to SMWD's water supply?

SMWD does not add fluoride to the water supply; however, Metropolitan Water District, the regional wholesale water supplier does add fluoride.

In 1995, AB 733 required the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW) to adopt regulations that require the fluoridation of the water of any public water system with at least 10,000 service connections. Metropolitan Water District joined the majority of the nation’s public water suppliers by adding fluoride to drinking water in December 2007. MWD’s current fluoride level of 0.7 to 1.3 parts per million follows the recommended range by the DDW.

Back to Top

Why do I smell chlorine in my water?

One of the most trusted means of disinfecting public water supplies against pathogenic microorganisms is chlorine or chloramine (chlorine plus ammonia).

The use of chlorine to disinfect drinking water dates back to 1908, when Dr. John Leal recommended that chlorine be used to disinfect the municipal water supply in Jersey City to reduce the spread of typhoid fever.

SMWD is devoted to strict compliance with all drinking water laws and conducts chloramine monitoring at 39 locations, representing all water sources, storage reservoirs and pressure zones.

On occasion, SMWD receives questions from customers about how to remove the chlorine taste from their water. One method is to fill a pitcher with water and place it in your refrigerator overnight; the trace amounts of chlorine gas in your water will dissipate.

Back to Top

How do I find out more about my drinking water and the tests performed by SMWD to ensure its safety?

SMWD produces an annual Water Quality Report to share the results of water quality testing from the previous calendar year. The report is mailed mid-year to all customers who hold accounts with SMWD. In addition, the report can be downloaded from the District’s website and copies are available at the District’s offices.

Back to Top

Does SMWD test for lead and copper in drinking water?

The District tests its drinking water for lead and copper to ensure that levels are below the set limits of the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW) and USEPA ‘s Safe Drinking Water Standards. Lead and copper found in drinking water is primarily from materials used in service lines and home plumbing lines. The District’s most recent testing for lead and copper was performed on September 2015, and levels did not exceed the respective action level in any water samples.

Back to Top

Recently, I’ve read that pinhole leaks in my home’s copper pipes may be caused by the water. Is there more information on this?

As your local water supplier, we are writing you about communications you may have received regarding copper pitting or “pinhole leaks” in residential plumbing systems.  One of our most important jobs is to ensure that the water we deliver to our residents and customers is safe to drink and meets Federal and State water quality standards.  Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) has its own significant testing program to ensure that the water delivered to your home meets these standards. 

 SMWD currently purchases and imports water that has undergone rigorous treatment and water quality testing by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  That treatment includes disinfection with chloramines.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--“Chloramines have been used by water utilities for almost 90 years, and their use is closely regulated.  More than one in five Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramines.  Water that contains chloramines and meets the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking, cooking, bathing and other household uses.”[1]   SMWD does not treat or alter the water it delivers to your home.

 The national EPA sets federal standards for water quality for public health purposes.  Additionally, the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW) enforces State water quality standards, which in many cases are even more restrictive than the Federal standards.  DDW has approved specific test sites for SMWD to monitor water quality and regularly perform testing with protocols and schedules prescribed by DDW.  These tests confirm that SMWD water is in full compliance District-wide with these standards.

SMWD transmission facilities conform to all requirements of the American Water Works Association, which has for more than 100 years developed standard requirements for materials, equipment, and practices used in water treatment and supply.  SMWD also follows the Standard Plans for Public Works Construction (the “Greenbook”) developed under the oversight of Public Works Standards, Inc.  State Uniform Building Codes govern all private structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems constructed in California.  Cities and counties are required by State law to enforce these standards in issuing all private building and occupancy permits. 

Industry studies and court cases on copper pitting and chloramines are voluminous and document many causes for copper pitting regardless of water chemistry, including:  improper installation (including flux, solder, dissimilar pipe material, and dissimilar pipe sizes), faulty electrical grounding, defective manufacturing, general pipe quality, improper pipe flushing at installation, galvanic corrosion from contact between dissimilar metals, movement and shifting of building, pipe buried or in contact with concrete, electrolysis (moisture and acidic soil), and sediments from hot water heaters.  In short, SMWD is not aware of any established relationship between our water disinfection/treatment process and pinhole leaks.

[1] http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/mdbp/chloramines_index.cfm. 

Back to Top

SMWD is currently closed

Contact Us

E-mail requests will be viewed between the hours of 8am-5pm M-F. Any e-mails sent after hours or on the weekend will be replied to during the next business day.

To use our LiveChat please check back during our normal operating hours of:

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Fill out the form to the right to send us an e-mail.