Annual Water Quality Reports
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) require that we test the drinking water regularly for particular contamination. The City of Charlottesville publishes annual water quality reports, which include results from drinking water tested in the City.
Annual Water Quality Reports (City of Charlottesville)
If you would like a paper copy of the Water Quality Report sent to you, please contact the Water Operations Program Coordinator via email or phone 434-970-3805. Additional copies are available in the lobby of City Hall, the Utility Billing Office, and the lobby of public libraries on Market St. and Gordon Ave.
If you live in the County and receive water from the Albemarle County Service Authority, you can find your appropriate Annual Water Quality Report on their website.
What do all these numbers mean?
Most importantly, this information shows that your drinking water met and exceeded all regulatory requirements during 2019. We are fortunate to have reliable sources for our drinking water needs and well-operated treatment facilities. Additional information is provided below that will give you more details on each contaminant detected in your drinking water.
What are these contaminants and their potential health risks?
- TURBIDITY is a measure of the clarity of the water and has no health effects. However, turbidity can interfere with disinfection and may provide a medium for microbial growth. Elevated turbidity may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms.
- TOTAL COLIFORM AND E. COLI BACTERIA. Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other, potentially harmful, bacteria may be present. E. coli, in particular, may indicate the presence of human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
- COMBINED RADIUM AND ALPHA AND BETA PARTICLES are naturally occurring. Certain minerals are radioactive and may emit forms of radiation. When these minerals are eroded into the source water, testing may indicate their presence. Some people who drink water containing radium, or alpha or beta emitters, over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
- BARIUM is a metal that is naturally-occurring in rock and the soil. Some people who drink water containing barium in excess of the MCL over many years may experience an increase in their blood pressure.
- FLUORIDE is added at the water treatment plant to promote strong teeth. Some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of the MCL over many years could develop the bone disease with pain and tenderness of the bones.
- The 1994 Federal LEAD and COPPER Rule mandates a household testing program for these substances. The values reported above are from this household-testing program. No lead or copper was found in the drinking water at the WTPs.
- LEAD. Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Children should show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults over many years could possibly develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.
- COPPER. Copper is an essential nutrient, but some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level over a relatively short period of time could experience gastrointestinal distress. People with Wilson’s disease should consult their doctor.
- NITRATE is an inorganic form of nitrogen found primarily in fertilizers, sewage, and runoff from natural deposits. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and “blue baby” syndrome.
- TRIHALOMETHANES AND HALOACETIC ACIDS are formed by the interaction of certain chlorine-based disinfectants with naturally occurring organic matter. Disinfectants are added to inactivate disease-causing pathogens. Organic matter is naturally present from leaves and decaying plants in the source water. Some people who drink water containing these compounds in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
- CHLORINE is a water additive used to control disease-causing microbes. Some people who use water containing chlorine well in excess of the MRDL could experience irritation effects to their eyes, skin, nose, as well as stomach discomfort.
Perchlorate in Our Water
Perchlorate is not one of the many contaminants we are required to test for at this time. The VDH may request perchlorate testing from systems that appear to be at higher risk for contamination. Fortunately, our water supply comes from watersheds that are not industrial and we are not considered a system at particular risk.
Currently the EPA has perchlorate listed on its Third Contaminant Candidate List (CCL3) - along with 103 other contaminants of concern. What this means is that they are researching these candidates to determine whether a national drinking water standard should be mandated. They determine this based on whether:
- The contaminant may have an adverse effect on the health of persons
- The contaminant is known to occur or there is a substantial likelihood the contaminant will occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern
- In the sole judgment of the Administrator, regulation of the contaminant presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reductions for persons served by public water systems
As part of their research, in the early 2000s they had numerous water supply systems in Virginia test for perchlorate; only one came back positive, and it was not ours. The report can be accessed on the First Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule page. You are looking for the "UCMR1 (2001 to 2005) Occurrence Data."
Chromium in the Water
Recently there was information in the national news about chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, being found in the drinking water of some cities. Charlottesville’s water is tested for total chromium levels every year. The level consistently falls below 0.01 ppm (the maximum level set by the EPA is 0.1 ppm). For more information on drinking water and contaminants, visit the EPA’s Drinking Water website.
Fluoride in the Water
Fluoridated water is highly supported by the Virginia Department of Health, the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the majority of health professionals in the U.S. If you would like further information on the health impacts of fluoridated water, visit the CDC’s webpage on fluoride.