At A Glance (water supply)
Water service is mandatory in the City of Santa Maria. Visit the City of Santa Maria Finance Department at 110 East Cook Street, Room 6 to start all of your City services.
- Water Quality Report
- Urban Water Management Plan
- Errata Sheet for City of Santa Maria 2015 Urban Water Management Plan
- Utilities Capacity Study 2012
Learn more about the City's water supply:
- Water Services
- Water Supply
- Water Quality
- Water Pressure
- Water Conservation
In a typical month, the City supplies approximately 90 percent of the domestic water supply from State Water, with the balance consisting of local groundwater. Under this scenario, the hardness of water is approximately 116 mg/L (or approximately 7 grains per gallon). More information about water hardness is available under the Water Quality section of this webpage.
Note: Each November, the State of California Department of Water Resources performs annual maintenance of the water distribution system pipeline. During that time, State Water is unavailable for approximately three weeks and the City provides 100 percent of the water supply from the groundwater basin. When this occurs, City water users may notice a difference in the water due to the increased hardness and mineral content.
How to Start City Utility Service
Visit the City of Santa Maria Finance Department at 110 East Cook Street between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday to start City utility services. Be prepared to present photo identification and a Social Security number. A new account set up charge will be added to your first utility bill. The City does not require a deposit.
How to Discontinue, Transfer, or Change Utility Services
Visit the Finance Department at 110 East Cook Street or contact the office by phone at (805) 925-0951, extension 2217 or 2218 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday to discontinue, transfer, or change utility services. Your utility customer account number is required to complete these transactions.
Utility Billing Notifications by Telephone
As of July, 2010, the City began using telephone notification to provide information about late utility bill payments. If your contact information has changed, please send an email to Utility Billing Update Notification and provide your name, address, account number, and telephone number at which you can be reached. You may receive a return phone call verifying your request. For more information, feel free to contact the Utilities Department at 925-0951 extension 7270.
Construction Water Meters
When meters are available, the City can provide a temporary water meter to serve construction or development projects. A Construction Water Meter Agreement must be completed in its entirety, signed, and submitted to the Utilities Department for processing Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Construction water meters are installed Monday through Thursday, within two (2) business days after receipt of the completed agreement. See page two of the agreement for more information or call the Utilities Department at (805) 925-0951 extension 7270.
Sources of Supply
The City of Santa Maria has two sources of supply; local groundwater and imported State Water. The local groundwater is plentiful, but has a high hardness and mineral content. The City blends the local supply with the imported supply to provide water with a lower hardness and mineral content than that available from the local supply alone.
State Water supply is variable, depending on precipitation, State Water reservoir storage, snowpack, and Delta conditions. The City maximizes the use of its available State Water supply each year in order to provide the highest water quality to City residents and businesses.
Water agencies that have more than 3,000 service connections are required to update an Urban Water Management Plan every five years. The Urban Water Management Plan contains information on how the City plans to provide and maintain a reliable supply of high quality water through efficient use of its existing resources for the anticipated needs of the City.
Urban Water Management Plan (441 pages, 24.6 MB)
Click here for contact information for other local water purveyors.
How Does Our System Work?
State Water and groundwater are blended at the City's Blending and Disinfection facility, where the disinfectant residual is balanced. Then the water travels into the distribution system and to your property. When water demand exceeds production, water also flows from the storage reservoirs into the distribution system. When production exceeds demand, the excess water travels to the storage reservoirs to be used for high demand times. The reservoirs also serve as a source of water to fight fires that occur within the City.
The City is committed to producing a high quality drinking water to our customers. To maintain our commitment to you, we routinely collect and test water samples. A summary of this testing is provided in the City's Annual Water Quality Report.
Disinfection is an important step in ensuring that water is safe to drink. Different types of disinfection include chlorination, chloramination, ultraviolet light, and ozone. Only chlorine and chloramine provide a residual disinfectant, meaning that the disinfectant remains in the water, providing ongoing protection as the water travels through the distribution system to your home or office. State regulations require that a disinfectant residual be present in the distribution system for protection of public health.
The City receives State Water from the Central Coast Water Authority. The water from the State Water Project contains a chloramine residual when it is delivered to the City. CCWA has put together a chloramination fact sheet that can be accessed by clicking here.
Why Isn't My Water Clear? The City strives to deliver crystal clear water. Sometimes, that's not what the customer sees. Following are explanations on why your water may not be clear.
Cloudy Water: Entrained air causes water to look cloudy. If you fill up a glass and the water appears cloudy, set the glass down and watch it for a few moments. You will likely see the water gradually clear up, starting from the bottom of the glass. This air is harmless.
White Crystals: White crystals are usually calcium deposits. These crystals form when water containing calcium sits in pipes or is heated up. The crystals are harmless, and dissolve in vinegar.
Brown or Red Water: Sand grains and bits of rust from metal water system components accumulate in the bottom of the pipes over time. A rush of water through the pipe will re-suspend these deposits and can carry them to your home or office. The City works to minimize this from happening by flushing out the pipes on a regular basis. However, if you experience this problem, wait 15 minutes to let the material settle back out, then run the water again. These deposits are not harmful, but can leave unsightly spots on laundry. If your water is brown or red for a short time every time you turn on the faucet, it is likely from old, galvanized household plumbing.
Blue Water:The most common cause of blue water is from homes that use a toilet bowl cleaner that is tinted blue. A drop in household water pressure from a broken line or a shutdown of the water supply to the house can draw the water from the toilet tank back into the household plumbing. The toilet bowl cleaner is not made to be consumed, so flush water out of the pipes until it runs clear again before drinking it.
Following grant awards from the California Dental Foundation and the California Department of Health Services, the City began fluoridating the potable water supply in March 2005. The City was required to fluoridate for a period of ten years following acceptance of the grants and installation of the fluoride system; that obligation ended in 2015. In October 2018, the City transitioned from a fluoridated system to a non-fluoridated system. As directed by the City Council in 2019, fluoridation of the City’s water supply was reinstated in 2020. Information about community water fluoridation is available online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website.
Hardness is a measure of the concentration of calcium and magnesium in the water. Because groundwater is in contact with rocks and minerals, it absorbs those minerals, causing groundwater supplies to have more hardness than most surface waters, which come from lakes and streams fed by rainwater.
The hardness of the water causes no health problems, and is a source of calcium and magnesium in the diet. However, calcium in the water is deposited on dishware and other surfaces, causing spots. The City imports State Water, which is lower in hardness than the local supply, to provide a water supply that has a lower hardness. In the water industry, hardness is usually discussed in units of milligrams per liter (mg/L); however, water softener manufactures usually refer to hardness in units of grains per gallon (gpg). One grain per gallon is equivalent to 17.1 milligrams per liter. The table below shows the hardness of various local water sources.
|Water Source||Hardness (mg/L)||Hardness (gpg)|
|State Water||120 mg/L||7 gpg|
|Typical Blend||250 mg/L||15 gpg|
|Maximum Blend||300 mg/L||18 gpg|
|Minimum Local Groundwater||420 mg/L||25 gpg|
|Maximum Local Groundwater||730 mg/L||43 gpg|
Some people prefer their water to be softer than what the City is able to provide. If you are considering purchasing or replacing a softener, please consider softeners that use exchange tanks instead of self-regenerating softeners. Dumping a bag of salt in a self-regenerating softener is equivalent to dumping that same bag of salt directly into the local groundwater. Exchange tanks, which get regenerated offsite with the salt disposal outside our groundwater basin, are much more protective of our local groundwater supply.
The City's water supply does not contain detectable levels of lead. However, household plumbing may leach lead in to the water that you use in your home. Older plumbing contains more lead than newer plumbing. It is possible that lead levels in your home may be higher than at other homes in the community as a result of materials used in your home's plumbing.
High levels of lead can cause brain or kidney damage and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen. Infants and young children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of lead and copper than the general population.
If you are concerned about elevated lead levels in your home's water, you may have your water tested by a certified water testing laboratory, or you may flush your tap for thirty seconds to two minutes before using the tap water. Additionally, avoid cooking with water from the hot side of your tap. Hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold water.
Different water supplies have different tastes, depending on the blend of minerals in the water. Water with no minerals in it, such as distilled water, has a flat taste to it. People who become accustomed to a certain water supply from another area may think that the City's water tastes strange. Most of the time, the taste of the water is not an indicator of its safety to drink. Following are explanations for some tastes that you might experience in the water:
Musty/Earthy Taste: Surface waters, such as the State Water Supply, can sometimes be impacted by algal blooms. Some types of algae release compounds such as 2-methylisoborneal (MIB) or geosmin, which both have a musty or earthy taste and smell to them. These compounds are harmless, but can make the water taste and smell dirty. The City has actively worked with the Central Coast Water Authority, which treats the State Water, to find ways to reduce the incidences of these taste concerns. As a result, there are have been no noticeable taste problems from MIB and geosmin since 2007.
Chlorine Taste: When disinfection by chlorination is optimized, the added chemicals leave very little taste to the water. However, some people are more sensitive to certain tastes and odors than others. If you are particularly sensitive to the chlorine smell or taste, chill the water, or run it through a simple carbon filter to remove the taste and smell.BACK TO TOP
Santa Maria serves its customers with a water pressure that is fairly constant around the clock. Depending on the elevation of the property where water is served, water pressure is usually between 60 and 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Many customers call concerned about the water pressure at their home. Here are common reasons for low water pressure:
Pressure Regulators: Pressure regulators lower water pressure entering a building. Pressure regulators look like the one shown here. Set the pressure by adjusting the nut on the top of the regulator until the desired pressure is reached. These valves are usually located between the meter and house.
Aerators: Low water pressure from just one faucet can be caused by a clogged aerator. Aerators are screens attached to the faucet to control the water flow. Unscrewing the aerator off the faucet and rinsing any sand or mineral buildup in the screen can improve the water pressure from that faucet.
House Valve: The house valve is located outside your home, usually next to one of the hose bibs. If this valve is partially closed, you may not be getting full pressure. Open the valve completely by turning or twisting the handle all the way to the left.
Water Heater: Sediments build up in household plumbing over time, especially in the hot water heater. These sediments can affect the pressure. Flush your water heater two to three times a year to keep sediment levels from building up.
Water Softeners: Water softeners occasionally clog up, and can result in low household water pressure. Have your softener checked regularly to keep it functioning properly.