Regulatory Requirements


Your tap water may contain different types of chemicals (organic and inorganic), microscopic organisms (e.g., bacteria, algae, viruses) and radioactive materials (radionuclides), many of which are naturally occurring. Health agencies require monitoring for these constituents or substances, because at certain levels they could make a person sick.


Water Quality Goals

In addition to mandatory water quality standards, the U.S. EPA and California EPA have set voluntary water quality goals for some contaminants. The data tables in this report includes three types of water quality goals:


Maximum Contaminant Level Goal. The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs are set by the U.S. EPA.
Public Health Goal. The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. PHGs are set by the U.S. EPA.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal. The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.


Water Quality Standards

Drinking water standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) set limits on over 90 substances that may affect consumer health or aesthetic qualities of drinking water. EPA rules also set water-testing schedules and methods that water systems must follow. The data tables in this report show the following types of water quality standards:

Primary Standards. Mandatory health-related standards regarding potable water. For each contaminant, a Primary Standard either specifies a treatment technique or sets a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).

Secondary Standards. Aesthetic standards (non health-related) that could cause odor, taste, or appearance problems in drinking water.

Unregulated Parameters. Information about contaminants that are monitored, but are not currently regulated by federal and state health agencies.


Maximum Allowed Levels of Constituents

Health agencies have maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for constituents so that drinking water is safe and looks, tastes and smells good. A few constituents have the letters “TT” (Treatment Technique) in the MCL column because they do not have a numerical MCL. Instead, they have certain treatment requirements that have to be met. One of the constituents, total chlorine residual, has an MRDL (maximum residual disinfection level) instead of an MCL.


The MRDL is the maximum level of a disinfectant added for water treatment that is allowed in water. While disinfectants are necessary to kill harmful microbes, drinking water regulations protect against too much disinfectant being added. Another constituent, turbidity, has a requirement that 95 percent of the measurements taken must be below a certain number. Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of the water. We monitor it because it is a good indicator of the efficiency of the filtration system.


Primary vs. Maximum Allowed Levels of Constituents

Constituents that are grouped in the “Primary Standards” section may be unhealthy at certain levels. Constituents that are grouped under the “Secondary Standards” section can affect the appearance, taste and smell of water, but do not affect the safety of the water unless they also have a primary standard. Some constituents (e.g., aluminum) have two different MCLs, one for health-related impacts, and another for non-health related impacts.


Safe Levels of Constituents

With a few exceptions, if the average amount of a constituent found in tap water over the course of a year is no greater than the MCL, then the regulatory requirements are considered to be satisfied. The highest and lowest levels measured over a year are shown in the range. Requirements for safety, appearance, taste and smell are based on the average levels recorded and not the range.


Additional Information

Additional information about drinking water safety and standards can be found at:


State Water Resources Control Board Division Of Drinking Water
1001 I Street Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 449-5577


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office Of Ground Water And Drinking Water
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Mail Code 4606M
Washington, DC 20460-0003


Consumer Information


Information On How Drinking Water Standards Are Established