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Frequently Asked Questions about Tempe's Water

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Who do I call to turn on/off/transfer water service?
How can I pay my water bill? (or any other billing inquiries)
Do I need a permit to drain my pool, and where can I drain it?
What is the hardness of the water?
How much fluoride is in Tempe's drinking water?
What is Tempe doing about Pharmaceuticals in the water?
Is there Hexavalent Chromium in Tempe's drinking water?
What is the smell in the water?
What makes ice cubes cloudy?
What are the white spots in my teapot, coffeepot, shower and how can I get rid of them?
What is the source of Tempe's tap water?
What type of water treatment systems does the City recommend? 
What's in my water? 
Have your questions been answered?

How much fluoride is in Tempe's drinking water?
A: There is between 0.2 - 0.4ppm(parts per million) of naturally occurring fluoride in the source water. Tempe supplements the naturally occurring level of fluoride to 0.7ppm. The EPA has set a maximum allowable limit for fluoride in drinking water at 4.0 ppm.
Water fluoridation has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th Century. (Reported by the ADA).

What makes ice cubes cloudy?
A: Commercially made ice is stirred as it is being frozen and household ice is not. Without mixing, many more ice crystals form and air is trapped in the ice. Light rays are distorted by these crystals and this distortion gives home frozen ice a cloudy appearance. Dissolved minerals (calcium and magnesium) in the water also tend to settle out when the water freezes. You may notice these minerals floating in your glass when you use the ice cubes. 

What are the white spots in my teapot, coffeepot, shower and how can I get rid of them?
A: Dissolved minerals in water are left behind when water evaporates or is heated. These minerals are white and accumulate in teapots, coffeepots, showers and anywhere else water has evaporated. These white minerals can also be found on shower heads and glass shower doors.

To remove these minerals, fill the teapots and coffeepots with vinegar and let them sit overnight. Soak shower heads overnight in a plastic bowl filled with vinegar. When you are done soaking, carefully discard the contents of the plastic bowl down the drain and flush the container and sink drain with plenty of water. Rinse the teapots, coffeepots, or shower heads thoroughly after treatment and before use.
White spots on glass shower doors are difficult to remove with vinegar because the spots dissolve very slowly. A better idea is to prevent the spots from forming by wiping the glass doors with a damp sponge or towel after each shower. 

What is the smell in the water?
A: The three most common smells people inquire about are:

  • Chlorine, a disinfectant which is added to the water to kill germs. Typically, Tempe adds between 0.8ppm -1.2ppm of chlorine to the water to insure there will be sufficient disinfectant to kill germs at the furthest point from the water treatment plants.
  • MIB/Geosmin, seasonally occurring harmless by-products given off from algae in the lakes and canals.
  • Dirty drains, people commonly mistake smells coming from their drains as "smelly" water. To accurately determine if a smell is coming from your water fill a clean glass with cool water and walk away from the tap to smell it. Most of the time the smell will not be in the glass. Pouring bleach in the drain will kill germs that may be growing in the trap.

What type of water treatment systems does the City recommend?
A: Tempe's water meets or surpasses all the federal, state, and local water quality standards; therefore we do not promote the use of secondary water treatment devices. (If not properly maintained secondary water treatment devices may cause water quality problems.) Some people do, however, choose to install treatment systems for aesthetic reasons such as hardness deposits or chlorine taste. The EPA has also developed a brochure that contains more information about Tap water Water on Tap What you need to know which has information about treatment devices and what the different type do. For more information in choosing the unit that will fit your needs please refer to the following sources:

  • National Sanitation Foundation, NSF an independently tests home water treatment devices. "Consumers can be confident that home water treatment devices that carry NSF certification will actually reduce the contaminants as claimed by the manufacturer on the product label. In addition, you can also be assured that the product itself is not adding harmful levels of contaminants to the water".
  • Arizona Water Quality Association (480) 947-9850. This is a non-profit organization that specializes in secondary water treatment devices.
  • Underwriters Laboratory "Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product-safety testing and certification organization."
  • Federal Trade Commission, The FTC has developed free fact sheets that offers tips for consumers on protecting themselves from water testing frauds. The free fact sheets on "Home Water Treatment Units" and "Water Testing Scams," are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's News Phone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at:

What is Tempe doing about Pharmaceuticals in the water?
A: Tempe is proactive about this issue and other emerging water Quality issues. Although not required, Tempe has monitored the source waters and drinking water for pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP). Water professionals are researching the occurrence of personal care products and pharmaceutical compounds in drinking water supplies and are paying close attention to health effects research in this area. The Tempe Water Utilities Division (WUD) is active in this area through both the American Water Works Association Research Foundation and the National Science Foundation’s Water Quality Center at Arizona State University. To date, research throughout the world has not demonstrated an impact on human health from pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds in drinking water.  
Tempe encourages residents to properly dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs by bringing them to Tempe’s Household Products Collection Center, a much preferred alternative to flushing them down the toilet. The Household Products Collection Center is located at 1320 E University Drive.  Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has additional recommendations for disposal. The EPA website also has information about pharmaceuticals visit 

Is there Hexavalent Chromium in Tempe's drinking water?
A: In recent months, the compound Hexavalent Chromium, Chromium 6 or Cr-VI has gained much attention. 

Currently, the EPA has a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for Total Chromium of 100 parts per billion (ppb), which includes all forms of chromium, but does not have a separate MCL for Hexavalent Chromium. Tempe has never exceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for Total Chromium at any of its sources. Although there is no separate regulation for Hexavalent Chromium, Tempe has been conducting quarterly informational monitoring of all its sources since 2008. During that time, all but one sample has had results less than 10 ppb.

In January 2011, the EPA released optional monitoring protocol for public water systems to gather occurrence information for Hexavalent Chromium. Following EPA’s protocol, Tempe conducted monitoring in February 2011 using more sensitive methodology to be able to detect down to 0.05 ppb at all of its drinking water sources and in its distribution system. The results ranged from non-detect (<0.05ppb) to 7.2 ppb. Since February, 2011, Tempe has taken steps to be able to analyze Hexavalent Chromium at the lower detection levels in its own state certified water quality laboratory. Tempe will continue its proactive monitoring protocol and keep abreast with emerging public health information for Hexavalent

Have your questions been answered? If not please contact us 480-350-8330.