Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns:
Q: How can I check for a water leak?
A: Turn off all water using appliances and fixtures. If you have the small leak detection triangle on the dial of your water meter and it is rotating, even slightly, there is water leaking. If you do not have the detection triangle, observe the dial on your water meter. If this dial is rotating, even slightly, there is water leaking. Or, you can read your meter before you go to bed--don't use any water during the night--and the reading should be the same the first thing in the morning. If it isn't, you have a leak somewhere in the house. (The meter is read just like the odometer on a car.)
Toilet leaks tend to be less obvious than faucet leaks, but they can waste a significant amount of water if not tended to. If water is still running into the toilet bowl after it has stopped filling from the flush cycle, or if you can hear water running after the cycle is complete, your toilet is leaking.
Most toilet leaks occur at the overflow pipe or at the plunger ball inside the tank. To locate these kinds of leaks, remove the tank lid and flush the toilet. The water level should come to roughly a half-inch below the overflow pipe. Try adjusting the float level control screw so that the valve shuts off the water at the proper level. If the valve itself is leaking you may need to contact a plumber.
Although water may not be seen or heard running, your toilet may have a silent leak. To test for this, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank, but DO NOT FLUSH. If, after about 10 minutes, traces of the food coloring appear in the toilet bowl, your toilet has a silent leak. The leak is most likely to be located in or around the plunger ball or flapper valve at the bottom of the tank. These leaks are easy to fix with parts available at your home improvement or hardware store.
Q: What part of my water line am I responsible for?
A: Customers are responsible for the section of waterline from the shut off valve located near the edge of the street (curb stop) up to the water meter. All plumbing after the meter is the customer's responsibility.
Q: Is it important to know where my master valve is located?
A: During an emergency, you can't afford to waste time searching for your master valve.
The most common locations in your house or apartment are:
Every home, apartment and business has a master valve. To determine whether or not you've found it, try turning the valve off briefly and see if that shuts off all water faucets in the building. If not, repeat this process with each valve until you can do this successfully.
What are the threats to my drinking water?
The primary threats are contamination by chemical, biological or radiological agents; damage, destruction, or sabotage of physical infrastructure; and disruption to computer systems. Generally, biological agents in aerosol form are believed to be most dangerous.
Is bottled water safer than water from my tap?
Bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water. It can be valuable in emergency situations (floods, earthquakes, etc.), but in most cases it comes from the same source as tap water. The safety of bottled water depends on the safety and emergency response plans in place at the bottling plant. Tap water is protected through security measures dictated by the EPA, state and local governments, and state and local water organizations.
Could a small amount of contaminant affect the whole system's drinking water?
Not likely. It takes very large amounts of a contaminant to threaten an entire system. Because of increased security at your utility, and because citizens are being vigilant, it would be difficult for someone to introduce the quantities needed to contaminate a system without being detected. Should a contaminant be introduced, the treatment system already in place will, in many cases, remove the immediate threat to public health.
If there's an attack on my water, how will I know?
In the unlikely event of an attack, your water utility will activate an emergency response plan with local law enforcement and state emergency officials. These plans include shutting down the system, notifying the public of any emergency steps that need to be taken, and providing an alternative source of water, if needed.
What should I do if I see someone or something around my drinking water supply that looks suspicious?
Contact your local enforcement authorities (or call 911) as soon as possible. Write down as many facts as you can to inform them.
Special Health Concerns
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines regarding appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791).