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As Residential Usage Increases Because of Shelter-In-Place Conditions, Satisfaction with SFPUC Tap Water Grows Significantly

glass filling with water

San Francisco, CA – With Bay Area residents spending more time at home as a result of shelter-in-place orders, residential customers are increasing their water usage at a time when satisfaction with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) water quality continues to improve significantly.

Concerns about the SFPUC’s water quality decreased by 32 percent in 2019 when compared to 2018, according to the agency’s Water Quality Division 2019 Complaint Report. The significant drop in issues raised can be attributed to the SFPUC’s implementation of new taste and odor monitoring, aggressive quality control measures and pipeline flushing.

“We take great pride in providing a healthy, high-quality water, and that is all the more important during these times when families are turning more and more to our services,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “We know that there is so much daily uncertainty at the moment, but our customers can be assured that SFPUC water is safe, healthy and fresh-tasting.”

Every year, the SFPUC conducts more than 100,000 tests to confirm the agency consistently meets or exceeds federal and state standards for health and safety requirements. Those tests demonstrate that the agency’s multi-step treatment process reliably removes and kills viruses, including coronaviruses that cause COVID-19. SFPUC’s treatment plants use several disinfectants, (ultraviolet light, chlorine, ozone, and chloramine) and/or filtration to provide 10 to 60 times the required level of treatment for viruses.

Water quality technicians continue to take daily sample tests throughout the system and chemists and microbiologists test each sample to ensure that the water is safe. During the pandemic, the SFPUC has been reminding its customer that there is no need to buy bottled water, boil water or purchase home treatment systems. 

According to agency’s 2019 complaint report, the SFPUC recorded year-over-year decreases in every category of water quality issues, including discoloration, taste and odor. All complaints were investigated, documented and compiled by the SFPUC’s Water Quality Division, which responds to customer inquiries within two business hours. 

The improvements in satisfaction comes at a time when residents are increasing their reliance on tap water as result of stay-at-home restrictions enacted in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. Since shelter-in-place orders were first implemented on March 16, residential usage has increased by about 10 percent, according to SFPUC data tracking.

The agency’s drinking water comes from a variety of protected sources carefully managed by the SFPUC. These sources include surface water stored in reservoirs located in the Sierra Nevada, Alameda County and San Mateo County, and groundwater supplies stored in a deep aquifer located in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

About the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco. It delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. Our mission is to provide our customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to our care.