Richmond's Drinking Water: A History
Richmond's Water Treatment Plant was built on the banks of the James River in 1924.
Before then, more than 300 years ago, Richmond's drinking water came from numerous
springs and an open stream flowing from the Capitol across Main Street. Over the years
the plant has been upgraded and enlarged to meet growing demand.
Today, Richmond's Department of Public Utilities' (DPU) water plant can produce up
to 132 million gallons per day (MGD). DPU also provides water to Henrico,
Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland and Powhatan counties through wholesale contracts.
DPU has invested millions of dollars to ensure it always meets or exceeds federal
regulations as well as the increasing regional demands for reliable, high-quality
drinking water. Water utility employees perform numerous water tests every day
and maintain more than 1,200 miles of water lines so that when you turn on the tap,
your family will receive water that is clean and safe.
Dedicated to Drinking Water Quality
DPU is a member of the American
Water Works Association, the American Water Works Association Research Foundation,
and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. These organizations are dedicated
to furthering knowledge and research on safe drinking water.
Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at
least small amounts of some substances. The presence of substances does not necessarily
indicate that the water poses a health risk. More information about substances and
potential health effects may be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection
Agency's (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
Some people may be more vulnerable to certain substances in drinking water than
the general population. Immuno-compromised people - such as those with cancer
who are undergoing chemotherapy, those who have undergone organ transplants,
those with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, and some elderly people
and infants - can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should
seek advice from their health care providers about drinking water. EPA/CDC
(Centers for Disease Control) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk
of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial substances are available from
the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
Why We Report on Water Quality
The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act requires water utilities to provide consumers with a
yearly report on the source and quality of the water they drink.
The Virginia Department of Health conducted a source water assessment of our system
during 2002. The Richmond Water Treatment Plant was determined to be of high susceptibility
to contamination, using criteria developed by the state in its EPA-approved Source
Water Assessment Program. The assessment report consists of maps showing the source
water assessment area, an inventory of known land use activities of concern, and
documentation of any known contamination within the last five years from the date of
assessment. This report is available by contacting the Department of Public Utilities at 646-8938.
Included in our annual water quality report is information about the water source,
what it contains and how it compares with standards mandated by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Health. In 2013, the Environmental
Protection Agency decided to allow community water systems to meet the mailing requirement
for the distribution of consumer confidence reports (CCRs) by publishing the information on
publicly-available websites and including a web address for that page on a water bill
mailed or emailed to a customer.
If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The City of Richmond is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 15-30 seconds or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using water for cooking or drinking.
If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing materials, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What can affect the taste and odor of my water?
A. A significant change in the source water (the James River), such as an algae bloom, can impact both the taste and
odor at the tap. Also, maintenance on the distribution system (water mains) can cause temporary clarity and odor problems.
In none of these instances is the safety of the water reduced.
Q. Is Richmond’s water hard or soft?
A. Hardness is measured by the amount of magnesium and calcium salts in the water. Richmond’s water is moderately hard.
Q. How can I learn more about my drinking water?
A. More information may be obtained from the following sources:
City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities
DPU Customer Service
Environmental Protection Agency Safe Drinking Water Hotline
American Water Works Association