Drinking Water

Statewide Drought Emergency: For water conservation tips go to www.saveourh2o.org

At its August 20, 2014, the Arcata City Council activated its Water Shortage Contingency Plan. Statewide Emergency Conservation Measures have been adopted. The following uses of potable water are prohibited unless there is an immediate health and safety concern:

  1. Allowing potable water to flow beyond the limits of your yard, landscaping, or over a hard surface when watering;
  2. Letting the water run while washing a motor vehicle;
  3. Using potable water to wash driveways and sidewalks; and
  4. Using potable water to operate a decorative fountain or other water feature where the water is not re-circulated.

City Infrastructure

This Division is responsible for monitoring, reporting, testing and treatment of all drinking water for the City of Arcata and the Jacoby Creek Water District.

It manages and maintains 12 water booster pump stations and 16 water storage tanks, located throughout 5 interconnected elevation zones.

It is responsible for approximately 5,000 water meters, from 3/4" to 10" service size. The Water Division is also responsible for annually testing 500 Backflow Prevention Devices, and fire service leak detector check devices.

The State of California Department of Health Services and the United States Environmental Protection Agency require the following programs: Water quality testing including, but not limited to: pH, coliform, chlorine, fluoride, iron, lead and copper, temperature, trihaolmethanes, and turbidity. Testing occurs on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis.

Water Quality Reports

Cross-Connections and Backflow

 Minimization of cross-connections and backflow prevention are important safeguards for protecting our drinking water system from accidental pollution.  Cross-connections occur when ever a potable water pipe is directly or indirectly connected to a piece of equipment, piping, or container of non-potable water or other liquid.  Backflow is the flow non-potable water or other liquid into a potable water pipe through a cross-connection.  Read more about cross-connections, backflow, and your role in protecting drinking water here.

 Backflow through a cross-connection can introduce a wide range of pollutants into your home drinking water pipes, and in some cases, into the community drinking water system.  In May 2014, our customers received a notice in the mail that the City’s drinking water system had violated the State maximum contaminant level for Total Coliform bacteria.  Total Coliform are naturally in the environment and generally not harmful themselves but are used as an indicator that other, potentially harmful bacteria may be present.  Whenever we find Total Coliform in a sample we concurrently test for E. coli, a disease causing bacteria.  We did not find E. coli in any drinking water samples.   Corrective action was taken to flush the Total Coliform bacteria out of the drinking water system and subsequent testing showed Total Coliform was no longer present in the drinking water system. 

 During its investigation of this incident, the City found some evidence to suggest that the source of Total Coliform in the distribution system was from a cross-connection.  In this case, it is suspected that a hose connected to a spigot was submerged in a decorative fish pond while the pond was filling.  Non-potable water from the fish pond may have back-flowed through the cross-connection and introduced Total Coliform bacteria into the distribution system.  While this incident was not an emergency, it does highlight the point that we all have a responsibility to protect our drinking water resources.  Please take a moment to learn about cross-connections and backflow, and to identify and eliminate any existing cross-connections at your home or business.  


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