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FAQ: Water Taste and Odor Changes


Residents and businesses on Treasure Island may detect a change in taste and smell of their drinking water for a couple of days starting Wednesday, November 16, 2011. The SFPUC is boosting disinfection levels in the pipelines that service Treasure Island as part of regular transmission system maintenance. Crews will switch the disinfectant from the usual chloramine – chlorine and ammonia – to chlorine during this time.

The water remains safe to drink and meets all drinking water regulations.


Disinfection will return to standard methods in a few days’ time, and any chlorine taste and odor issues should disappear by the weekend.

Is the water safe to drink?


Yes. Any observed chlorine taste or smell will be temporary and last only a day or two. If customers find the tap water unpleasant to drink, they can boil the water, or add an orange or lemon to decrease the chlorine taste or smell. SFPUC water continues to meet all water quality standards, and California Department of Public Health regulations.

Why is this happening in my area? Why now?

One of the reasons is that less water is used during the fall and winter months. This decrease in usage allows water to stagnate in transmission pipelines reducing the effectiveness of water disinfectants. Adjustments in water disinfection are one of a number of standard water utility practices used to maintain water quality.

Are there any health effects?


No. The amount of chlorine being introduced is approved by California Department of Public Health and within regulatory limits.

Where do I call for additional questions or concerns?

San Francisco enjoys some of the highest quality water in the nation from the Hetch Hetchy Water System. We always strive to maintain this high quality through constant water quality monitoring and system maintenance.

Last updated: 11/29/2011 3:07:17 PM