Learn about Oxnard’s Drinking Water
Oxnard water meets or exceeds all of the exacting standards set by the State and Federal governments. Read more about Oxnard’s water quality testing results in the latest Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report, available here.
Oxnard is committed to providing our community with the highest quality water possible. Our Water Quality staff continuously monitors our supplies. By the numbers, water quality is sampled about 225 times each week/month, 120 times each quarter, and 720 times each year. In total, certified laboratory testing is conducted on more than 3,700 water samples each year for almost 300 different constituents, with all results reported to the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water.
If you have questions or concerns regarding water quality issues — such as taste, odor or appearance — please review the frequently asked questions below or contact Richard Maria, Regulatory Compliance Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 200-5374.
Currently, there are no standard procedures for flushing plumbing after an extended period of inactivity. We recommend reviewing the most current guidance provided by the EPA, CDC, and AWWA:
CDC’s Guidance for Building Water Systems
EPA’s 3Ts Flushing Best Practices
AWWA’s Shutoffs and Return to Service Guidance
Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Flushing the Pipes Flyer
Folleto de Descargar las Tuberías Comercial, Industrial e Institucional
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question below to access the answer
A. Is Oxnard’s drinking water safe?
Yes! Our water consistently meets or exceeds stringent State and Federal water quality regulations and Oxnard is confident that the drinking water we provide to homes, businesses and schools is safe. Oxnard water quality experts continuously monitor water supply and conduct hundreds of laboratory tests each year from water taken from sample points throughout the City.
However, Oxnard has no control over the quality of water after it enters your home or business. If you are concerned about the quality of your water, private laboratories can test your tap water for a fee. A current list of accredited laboratories can be viewed on the State Water Resources Control Board’s interactive map.
B. What are State and Federal water quality regulations?
State and Federal water quality regulations are complicated and often not well understood. The following explains the two main sets of standards displayed in the Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report – Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and Public Health Goals (PHG).
Maximum Contaminant Levels: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the California State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water establish science-based standards that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided in public water systems. These limits are called maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). An MCL is the maximum amount of a contaminant that can be present while still ensuring that the water meets state and federal standards. MCLs are designed to ensure that drinking water is safe to consume. MCLs are based on stringent scientific research and are evaluated and set through a very public process. An MCL is different from a Public Health Goal.
In California, MCLs are adopted as regulations. They are health-protective drinking water standards to be met by public water systems. MCLs take into account not only chemicals’ health risks but also factors such as their detectability and treatability, as well as costs of treatment. California Health & Safety Code §116365(a) requires a contaminant’s MCL to be established at a level as close to its Public Health Goal (see below) as is technologically and economically feasible, placing primary emphasis on the protection of public health. Along with the MCL, a regulated chemical also has a detection limit for purposes of reporting.
Public Health Goals: Public Health Goals are established by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). PHGs are concentrations of drinking water contaminants that pose no significant health risk if consumed for a lifetime, based on current risk assessment principles, practices, and methods. OEHHA establishes PHGs pursuant to California Health & Safety Code §116365(c) for contaminants with MCLs, and for those for which MCLs will be adopted. Public water systems such as Oxnard use PHGs to provide information about drinking water contaminants in their annual Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Reports.
Once OEHHA establishes or revises a PHG for a contaminant with an existing MCL, the California State Water Resources Control Board determines whether the MCL should be considered for possible revision. For chemicals so designated, an in-depth risk management analysis is conducted to determine whether or not to propose a revision.
C. Does Oxnard’s water contain per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals?
Based on Oxnard’s recent testing results, residents should be assured that PFAS contaminants have not been detected in any of our water sources and that safeguards are in place to protect our drinking water. PFAS have emerged as a health threat in drinking water as these chemicals have been widely used since 1940 in non-stick cookware, firefighting foams, fast food packaging and pesticides, due to their resistance to heat, water and oil. While national use of the two most common PFAS were voluntarily phased out in the 2000s, these chemicals have persisted in the environment, especially in groundwater, and exposure can lead to adverse public health effects.
Both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and California’s State Water Resources Control Board have required testing and are in the process of establishing new standards and reporting requirements to address PFAS. For more information about the State Water Resources Control Board’s new guidelines for PFAS, please visit www.waterboards.ca.gov/pfas/.
D. Do I need bottled or filtered water for safety?
Absolutely not! Bottled water and tap water are regulated by different agencies. Tap water actually has more stringent reporting requirements, such as providing customers with a water quality report each year. Bottled water suppliers are not required to provide such data, but some may do so on request. Oxnard water is safe and ready to drink at a fraction of the cost of bottled water. Before choosing an alternative to tap water, compare data contained in the Oxnard Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report with water quality data from the bottled water or filtration device you are considering. The decision to use bottled water or a filtration system should be based on taste preferences or other aesthetic considerations, not because of fears of health risks.
E. Is our drinking water tested for lead or copper?
The City of Oxnard Water Division began monitoring for lead and copper in 1992, followed by semi-annual, annual, and then triennial (every three years) monitoring. Oxnard’s lead sampling shows levels for lead and copper are well below regulatory limits. Results for the most recent testing are included each year in the Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report.
The testing is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), which was established in 1991. The rule requires public water systems to monitor and report lead and copper in drinking water that may result from corrosion of household plumbing or water distribution components. Unlike other areas of the country, California’s drinking water is generally at low risk for lead contamination, primarily due to the fact that lead service lines are not common in California. However, some lead may be present in older homes whose pipes were joined with lead solder before it was banned by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments in 1986.
The LCR was established because elevated levels of lead in water can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. The Water Division is responsible for providing safe drinking water but cannot control the variety of materials used in the plumbing components of homes or businesses. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about potential lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. A current list of accredited laboratories, who can test your water for a fee, can be viewed on the State Water Resources Control Board’s interactive map. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available for the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) or www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.
F. What are nitrates and are they in the water?
Nitrate in groundwater originates primarily from fertilizers, septic systems, and manure storage or spreading operations. Fertilizer nitrogen that is not taken up by plants, volatilized, or carried away by surface runoff leaches to the groundwater in the form of nitrate. This not only makes the nitrogen unavailable to crops, but also can elevate the concentration in groundwater above the levels acceptable for drinking water quality. Nitrogen from manure similarly can be lost from fields, barnyards, or storage locations. Septic systems also can elevate groundwater nitrate concentrations because they remove only half of the nitrogen in wastewater, leaving the remaining half to percolate to groundwater. It is regulated in drinking water primarily because excess levels can cause methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby” disease, a health risk for babies, pregnant women and others with specific enzyme deficiencies.
Oxnard’s water is blended from imported State water, groundwater and groundwater treated through a reverse osmosis process. As shown in the Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report, test samples for Nitrate (as Nitrogen) average under 3 parts per million (ppm), well below the 10 ppm regulatory level.
G. Do I have hard water?
Yes. Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, largely calcium and magnesium and a variety of other metals. Oxnard’s water tests at an average of 285 parts per million (ppm) for these minerals and is classified as fairly hard or hard. The hardness of our water sources vary: imported State water is moderately hard, groundwater is typically hard, and the water produced by the groundwater desalter is soft. Oxnard’s ability to blend water sources helps to reduce hardness levels.
While the hardness of water does not affect its safety nor poses any health risks, the higher mineral content can cause white spots on glasses in the dishwasher. It is best to read the owner’s manual for your dishwasher and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding settings for hard water. Some other tips that may help reduce spotting include using hotter water, varying the brand and type of rinse agent and detergent, and adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the dishwasher.
H. I recently purchased a new dishwasher/water softener. What is the water hardness here in Oxnard?
The hardness range for Oxnard’s water is 196-418 parts per million (ppm), with an average of 285 ppm. Some water softening systems use grains per gallon (gpg) for their settings: 196 ppm=11.5 gpg, 285 ppm=16.7 gpg, and 418 ppm=24.4 gpg. Please check the latest Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report for the most recent hardness information.
I. Why does my water sometimes look cloudy?
Tap water can sometimes appear cloudy and this is often mistaken for an impurity in the water. Cloudy water, also commonly described as milky white, hazy, soapy or foamy, is usually caused by air in the water. This can occur naturally and is caused by dissolved air in the water that is released when the faucet is opened. The presence of air can sometimes be traced to pipeline or pump repair, too. Cloudiness caused by air bubbles does not pose a health concern, but for some people it is unappealing so one solution is to keep a jug of tap water in the fridge for drinking.
To determine if the white color in the water is due to air, fill a clear glass with water and set it on the counter. Observe the glass of water for two or three minutes. If the white color is due to air, the water will begin to clear at the bottom of the glass first and then gradually will clear all the way to the top.
J. What could cause my water to have a rusty color?
Routine repairs or flushing of fire hydrants and water mains can stir up sediment and cause red or brown colored tap water. This coloring is not a health concern but can stain laundry and fixtures. Running your cold water tap, preferably the outside hose bib, for a few minutes will usually flush out any sediment in your system.
If your hot water alone appears colored, sediment in your water heater is likely to blame. Try draining the water from the bottom of your water heater to flush out these unwanted minerals. Annual flushing will help to prevent further build-up of sediment.
K. How do I flush my water heater?
Oxnard flushes its water distribution pipelines routinely to refresh the delivery system and it’s a good idea to flush your home’s hot water heater once a year. Routine flushing will prevent sediment from building up, which will prolong the life and efficiency of your hot water heater and prevent water quality problems in your home’s hot water system. To prevent bacteria from growing in your home’s hot water heater, the temperature should be at 130 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Care should be taken in homes with young children, elderly or disabled residents to prevent accidental scalding.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to flushing a hot water heater. (Please note: if you have an older hot water heater that has not been maintained regularly, the bottom valve may already be corroded and may make it impossible to shut the valve after flushing.) If you are in doubt or if you do not feel comfortable performing home maintenance tasks such as this, contact a plumber for assistance.
Step 1: Hook up a garden hose to the faucet located at the bottom of your hot water heater.
Step 2: Place the other end of the hose (cold water) so that it can drain to the gutter, sink and/or flowerbed.
Step 3: The water coming out will be hot, so be careful where you place the end of the hose.
Step 4: Turn on the valve slowly and allow to drain until the water coming out of the hose is tepid and/or is clear.
Step 5: Turn off valve and remove hose.
L. Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?
Is the smell coming from all taps or just one? If it’s coming from just one tap, the problem is generally the drain and not the water. The odor comes from material such as hair or food particles decomposing in the drain area. To get rid of the odor, pour about a half cup of liquid bleach into the drain. To prevent odors from returning, routinely flush drains with a small amount of bleach once a month or so. If the smell is coming from all taps, take a glass of water from a sink into another room without water, such as your living room. Is the odor still present? If not, the problem is with the drains. Use the same suggestion outlined above for all affected drains.
Is the problem tap one that is seldom used (such as a guest bathroom) or, if the whole house is involved, did you recently return from vacation? Often when a sink or shower is not used for a period of time, the material in the drain remains odorless until water is first turned on. When water hits the built-up material, odor is generated. To solve the problem, use the same bleach flushing suggestion as above.
Is the odor coming from both hot and cold water? If it’s coming from just the hot water, then your water heater may need flushing. Annual flushing of the hot water heater should keep the problem from returning. Hot water heater odors can also result from having the temperature set too low. To prevent bacterial growth, hot water heaters should not be set below 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Care should be taken in homes with young children, elderly or disabled residents to prevent accidental scalding.
If you continue to experience odor problems with your water, please contact us.
M. How much sodium is in the water?
The sodium levels in Oxnard’s water range from 72 parts per million (ppm) to 83 ppm. Neither the state nor federal government has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for sodium. Customers who have concerns about sodium intake should discuss these figures with their physician and follow his or her recommendation.
N. Is there added fluoride in Oxnard’s water?
Our local groundwater has naturally occurring fluoride but no additional fluoride is added. About 50% of Oxnard’s water supply is from Calleguas via Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and this source has added fluoride. Oxnard’s blended water from these sources has fluoride levels that average about 0.5 parts per million, which is close to the recommended range for dental health.
There is a long history as fluoride has been added to United States drinking water supplies since 1945. Of the 50 largest cities in the country, 43 add fluoride to their drinking water. In late 1995, Assembly Bill 733 was signed into law, requiring the California Department of Public Health to adopt regulations that require the fluoridation of the water of any public water system with at least 10,000 service connections when the state provided funding. While this funding was never made available to Oxnard, the regional wholesale water supplier MWD joined a majority of the nation’s public water suppliers in adding fluoride to drinking water in order to prevent tooth decay in December 2007. In line with recommendations from the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, MWD adjusted the natural fluoride level (typically 0.2 parts per million) in imported treated water to a target level of 0.8 parts per million, the optimal range for dental health of 0.7 to 1.3 parts per million.
O. Why do some reports published by outside organizations appear to show contaminants in our water?
There are many levels of regulations and a wide range of scientific research information for water quality. As such, some outside organizations may use water quality related standards, goals and research information within different contexts, which may not be appropriate in describing water safety. For example, some have compared water quality test data against Public Health Goals (PHGs) for contaminants rather than legally regulated Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). Using this method, the resultant analysis would present an inaccurate and misleading interpretation of the safety of drinking water.
P. How do I store water for an emergency?
An emergency water supply should be an important part of your family’s emergency kit, along with food, medical supplies, flashlights, portable radios, etc. Oxnard uses many safeguards to protect the sanitary quality of your drinking water, but during a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood, those protections could be compromised. Seven gallons of stored water per person can last two weeks. To keep drinking water safe from contamination, it should be stored in carefully cleaned, noncorrosive, tightly covered containers. Commercially bottled water, stored in packing boxes, is one excellent option. All stored water should be dated and rotated every three to six months.
Immediately after a major disaster, customers should shut off the valve that leads to the water main. This will prevent contamination to your home water supply. Customers should not use the water from your tap if it is cloudy or has an unpleasant smell. Customers should purify such water before using it. If water is polluted, it should be strained through paper towels, paper coffee filters or several layers of clean cloth into a container to remove any sediment or floating matter.
Water that is boiled vigorously for five minutes is usually safe from harmful bacterial contamination. If boiling is not possible, strain the water as above and purify it by adding ordinary liquid chlorine bleach or tincture of iodine. Granular forms of household bleach are poisonous so they should not be used.
To purify one gallon of clear water, add 8 drops of liquid bleach or 12 drops of tincture of iodine. If the water you are about to purify is cloudy, use 16 drops of liquid bleach or 24 drops of tincture of iodine. Mix thoroughly and let stand for 30 minutes. A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water. If not, repeat the dosage and let stand for an additional 15 minutes before using. Purify only enough water at a time to last approximately 48 hours. This will minimize chances of re-contamination. Make sure your family’s emergency kit includes one or more eye droppers for use in measuring chlorine or iodine. It is impossible to accurately measure such small amounts of disinfectant without one.
Report water waste and leaks online at 311.OXNARD.ORG
Water Service Center
Phone (805) 385-8136
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Last updated March 24, 2023