Water Quality & Emerging Contaminants

Why It Matters


Maintaining exceptional water quality is key to the safety of our customers and communities and is a fundamental aspect of our business. As a consumable utility, maintaining safe and reliable water quality is essential to protecting our customers and public health. Protecting local water sources and being a good environmental steward also leads to better water quality.

Public awareness and concern for water contaminants has grown in recent years. In fact, a 2021 environmental survey found that 56% of U.S. adults worry “a great deal” about pollutants and contaminants in drinking water. Contaminants of emerging concern include chemicals from pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, herbicides, endocrine disrupting compounds and industrial chemicals. Naturally occurring microbes, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites for which the risk to the public’s health is not fully understood, are also considered emerging contaminants. To help protect our customers and the public from contaminants of emerging concern, we research the impacts of contaminants on water supplies, increase public awareness of emerging contaminants and leverage innovative technology to effectively manage water quality. 

Our approach

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Although the U.S. government, state governments and environmental and public health regulators set and enforce industry standards for water utilities, we surpass baseline regulations and standards and often go beyond minimum requirements to earn our customers’ trust and protect the quality of the water we deliver. We perform over one million water quality tests per year that help monitor and control microbial, chemical and radiological contaminants. Our teams conduct extensive research to enhance our understanding of emerging contaminants and their impact on water supplies. Our performance demonstrates our expertise; the drinking water that we deliver to our customers routinely meets or surpasses established standards.


Our Performance


We use a number of different indicators to drive our industry-leading water quality and environmental performance. We focus on both leading and lagging indicators to evaluate our environmental performance, including:

  • Leading indicators: internal audits, peer-to-peer reviews, training, adherence to scheduled maintenance, advanced data analytics; and
  • Lagging indicators: MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) exceedances, tracking of Health Advisory Limit exceedances and meeting regulatory limits.

To measure and evaluate our drinking water quality and management, we compare our performance against the industry average for drinking water compliance indicators, including an annual Notice of Violation (NOV) target. This target is part of our company-wide Annual Performance Plan and requires us to provide drinking water quality that is at least 20 times greater than the industry average.

We also receive industry recognition through water quality awards from state and federal regulators and industry organizations for compliance with drinking water standards.