Water Quality Report

Contact Information
Water Utility Engineering
Renton, WA 98057
425-430-7241

Click Image to download a copy of the 2020 Water Quality ReportTo comply with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires water utilities to provide annual "consumer confidence" reports to their customers, the city prepares the annual Water Quality Report

The report contains information on where Renton's drinking water originates; what minerals or chemicals it contains; how it compares to stringent water quality standards; what Renton is doing to protect the water supply, as well as what the city is  doing to wisely use and conserve regional water supply.

Providing high quality and safe drinking water is one of Renton's highest priorities. 

For a printed copy of the report, call 425-430-7287 or email limhoff@rentonwa.gov.

2020 Water Quality Report - Translatable

Where Does Your Water Come From? Renton’s Water Sources

In 2019, the City of Renton obtained its drinking water from four sources:

  • Six downtown wells located in Liberty and Cedar River Parks, which draw water from the Cedar Valley Aquifer

  • Springbrook Springs, a small spring located in south Renton

  • The Maplewood wellfield located under the Maplewood Golf Course

  • An agreement to buy water from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), who source water from the Cedar and Tolt rivers

Our agreement with SPU began in January 2012. During 2019, SPU provided approximately 29 million gallons (MG) of water that were used by the Renton Boeing plant. Water is purchased from SPU primarily as a backup supply during summer peak use periods. More information available at SPU.

In 2019, the combined four water sources produced 2.55 billion gallons of water.

Graphic of where our water comes from

Water Treatment: Providing Safe, Clean Water

The water pumped from the downtown wells and Springbrook Springs is naturally very clean and needs minimal treatment. Chlorine is added to destroy bacteria, parasites, and viruses that could possibly enter our source water. Chlorine also protects water in the distribution system in case there is a contamination event like a water main break or backflow incident. Sodium hydroxide is added to slightly raise the pH of the water to help prevent the corrosion of household plumbing. Ortho-polyphosphates are added to reduce the internal corrosion of old cast iron water mains found in the neighborhoods of Kennydale and West Hill. Fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay. The downtown wellfield produced 62% of Renton’s water in 2019. Springbrook Springs produced 15% of Renton’s water in 2019.

Maplewood water is clean as well, but due to naturally occurring minerals, it must first be treated before it is pumped into the distribution system. The treatment process consists of removing manganese, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia from the source water. Chlorine is added to protect the water in the distribution system and fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay. The Maplewood wellfield produced 23% of Renton’s water in 2019.

Photo of a pump room

Reliable Water When You Need It Most: Our COVID-19 Response

Throughout the COVID-19 response, the City of Renton has been working diligently to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water to our customers and maintain adequate water supply for fire protection. For community resilience, one of our highest priorities is ensuring safe and reliable water comes out of the faucet for handwashing and cleaning. The City’s Water Utility staff implemented continuity of operations planning in early March and took steps to reduce exposure for staff such that our water operations team could keep the system running and protected against pathogens. Our certified water treatment operators are mission critical as they continued collecting water quality samples from the system daily.

Water Utility staff will continue using mitigation strategies, such as physical distancing and personal protective equipment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water supplies and the current risk to drinking water is low.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that Americans continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.

For more information:

Planning for the Future: Kennydale Reservoir

Photo of lid being put on the Kennydale ReservoirThe City of Renton Water Utility makes sure that customers have access to safe, clean water and plans for future water use too! Since the groundbreaking ceremony in June 2019, engineers and construction crews have been working diligently to develop a new, 1.3 million gallon water reservoir in the Kennydale neighborhood. Along with its offsite improvements, this massive project will provide the Kennydale Pressure Zone with added resiliency and important water system controls. Construction plans to wrap up in summer 2020.

Ensuring Water Safety

To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the DOH and EPA prescribe regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. 

The Food and Drug Administration and the Washington Department of Agriculture regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water that must provide the same protection for public health.

Message From the EPA

EPA LogoOur drinking water comes from wells and springs. As our water travels through the ground to the wells, it can dissolve naturally occurring minerals as well as substances from human activity. Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons, such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their healthcare providers. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

Water Conservation: Saving Water Indoors

  • Avoid evaporation by watering early in the morning and late at night. 

  • Scrape, do not rinse, dishes before using a dishwasher.

  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving.

  • Choose five-minute showers instead of baths.

  • Always run full laundry and dish loads.

  • Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost instead.

  • Thaw frozen food in the fridge, not by running water.

  • Replace worn washers and gaskets in faucets and showerheads.

  • Replace damaged toilet flappers.

  • Use efficient showerheads, faucets, toilets, aerators, washing machines, and dishwashers. Look for WaterSense or Energy Star labels.

  • Learn to fix leaks with videos at savingwater.org.

Better Habits Protect Salmon Too!

Summer is peak water use season—the time when rain stops and people use more water in their yards and gardens. It is especially important to conserve water in summer and fall when stream flows are lowest. Your actions can help to protect salmon and their freshwater habitat. 

  • Never dump oil or other chemicals down storm drains, and make sure no pollutants are leaking that could get washed into waterways (including pressure washing).

  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing. Put sweepings in the garbage to prevent pollutants and debris from entering streams.

  • Avoid fertilizers. If necessary, use an organic brand.

  • Use automatic car washes that recycle water and perform proper disposal of detergents.

Renton is a Member of the Saving Water Partnership

Renton signed an agreement to buy water from Seattle Public Utilities in January 2012. As part of this agreement, the City of Renton joined the Saving Water Partnership (SWP). The SWP, which is made up of the City of Renton and 17 water utility partners, set a regional conservation goal: Keep the total average annual retail water use of SWP members under 110 mgd through 2028, despite forecasted population growth, by reducing per capita water use. For 2019, the SWP met the goal, using 94.0 mgd.

Here’s What We Accomplished This Year...

  • In 2019, the SWP youth education program conducted 525 in-classroom presentations to over 12,500 K–8 students. Topics included the water cycle, the salmon life cycle, watershed ecosystems, and the water supply system. The program was a big hit among teachers and students.

  • The SWP continued the sprinkler timer rebate program. Nearly 170 customers replaced inefficient sprinkler timers with new WaterSense timers.

  • The SWP provided rebates for Premium toilets for
    residential and commercial customers. These fixtures use 1.1 gallons of water per flush (or less), at least 20% less water than a regular WaterSense fixture.

  • The Single Family Toilet Rebate Program upgraded 523 toilets to Premium toilet models and the Multifamily Toilet Replacement Program upgraded nearly 2,500 toilets to Premium models.

  • The SWP presented 12 Savvy Gardener classes in the spring and fall of 2019 with 455 attendees. These classes enable gardeners to create and maintain healthy landscapes that are good for families and the environment.

Reuse Leftover Water

Water left in your glass? Pour the water you would usually toss down the drain into a watering can (or teapot)—you can use this to water your plants!

You can also put a bowl in the shower while your water heats up. Once the water cools, your plants will love a fresh drink of saved water!

We Strive to Improve Our Water Use Efficiency

In 2003, the Washington State Legislature passed the Municipal Water Law to address the increasing demand on the state’s water resources. The law established that all municipal water suppliers must use water more efficiently in exchange for water right certainty and flexibility to help them meet future demand. The Water Use Efficiency Rule is part of this law and requires municipal water suppliers to report their goals and progress each year.

Water Consumption and Losses

Renton’s total water produced and purchased in 2019 was 2,546,277,445 gallons. Distribution system leakage (DSL) is reported in the 2019 Water Use Efficiency report to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) as a three-year rolling average, calculated to be 10.5%. Renton’s DSL for the 2019 calendar year was 11.0%, or 280,399,584 gallons. While this is a 1% increase from 2018, our three-year rolling average decreased by 0.2%. DSL reflects the amount of water and potential revenue that has been lost due to water theft, water main breaks, meter inaccuracies, and other causes.

Water Loss Control Action Plan

Since the three-year (2017–2019) annual average of the city’s distribution system leakage exceeds 10%, we are required by the state to develop and implement a Water Loss Control Action Plan. The city is taking the following actions, among others, to identify and reduce water loss in the distribution system:

  • Continue the annual replacement of aging and leaky water mains.

  • Conduct leak testing on old underground water reservoirs and repair leaky joints on concrete floors and walls.

  • Continue using Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology to detect leaks.

We Also Offer Rebates!

Is it time to upgrade your toilet to a new, water-efficient model in your home, business, or multifamily building? Not only will you save money and water, you may also qualify for a $100 rebate towards Premium 1.1 gpf or less toilets. Rebates are also available for residential sprinkler timers, multifamily irrigation projects, and commercial buildings too!

For more info, visit: savingwater.org/rebates

Creating a Healthy, Water-Saving Garden This Summer

Watering Your Garden

  • Avoid evaporation by watering early in the morning and late at night.

  • Water deeply, but infrequently. This encourages deep roots.

  • Water lawns with one inch of water per week. Or, let areas of your lawn go brown and dormant, but water enough to moisten root zone once a month.

Irrigating Correctly

  • Inspect your irrigation system for leaks. An unusually green spot in the lawn may be a clue that there is a leak in the system.

  • For automatic irrigation systems, install a rain shutoff device.

Selecting the Right Plant

  • Pick plants that resist pests and require less water.

  • Group plants by their needs. Place plants that need regular watering together so that you don’t have to water the whole yard every day.

  • Make space for wildlife by planting native species and avoiding invasive and exotic plants. You can also provide a small water source such as a birdbath and leave wild “buffers” of native plants along fence lines, ravines, streams, and shorelines.

Using Mulch

  • Mulch your shrub and tree beds with wood chips, leaves, or bark once per year to conserve water, reduce weeds, and feed the soil. Mulch should be several inches deep and one inch away from the plant stems.

Water Quality Topics

Lead and Your Health

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 Renton Water Utility 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 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or epa.gov/safewater/lead.

You can use the flushed water for watering plants, washing dishes, or general cleaning. Only use water from the cold-water tap for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels of lead. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures, and solder. The most common problem is brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures that can leach lead into the water, especially hot water. Until six years ago, the legal limit for “lead-free” pipes was up to 8% lead. As of January 1, 2014, all newly installed water faucets, fixtures, pipes, and fittings must meet new lead-free requirements, which reduce the amount of lead allowed to 0.25%. But these requirements do not apply to existing fixtures, such as those found in many older homes.

Lead Prevention

Renton works to prevent the corrosion of not only lead, but other metals such as copper and iron. First, the pH of the water is adjusted to prevent the corrosion of household plumbing—the major possible source of lead in our water. Second, in areas of the city with cast iron water mains (Kennydale and West Hill), ortho-polyphosphates are added to prevent corrosion. To make sure this treatment is working, water is periodically tested at residential taps. This testing is in compliance with the DOH’s Lead and Copper Rule. More information is available at doh.wa.gov/leadandcopperrule.

Fluoride

In 1985, the citizens of Renton voted to have fluoride added to the city’s drinking water. Fluoride levels were adjusted in 2016 to meet the DOH’s new recommended level of 0.7 ppm. More information on fluoride can be found at the CDC.

Water Hardness

Renton’s water falls within the slightly hard range with about 2.9 grains per gallon of hardness. Hard water may cause scale buildup in cooking pans, sinks, and water heaters, and may require using more soap to form a lather. A water’s hardness is dependent upon the levels of two naturally occurring soluble minerals—calcium and magnesium. Renton’s slightly hard water would be classified as containing 17.1–60 mg/L of magnesium and calcium. This means that dishwashing and clothes washing require relatively less soap than in other areas where the water is hard.

Image of Water Hardness grid

PFAS Chemicals

PFAS is an acronym for “per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances.” PFAS are synthetic chemicals used in many consumer products, including food wrappers, fabrics, and carpets, to make them resistant to water, oil, grease, stains, and heat. Certain types of firefighting foam may contain PFAS. Even though PFAS compounds aren’t manufactured in Washington State, there are known cases of PFAS contamination in drinking water linked to the use of firefighting foam.

The EPA has established a health advisory level (HAL) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS) at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). This is not a regulatory standard, but in Washington state the DOH is currently considering setting a state standard for PFAS. The Renton Water Utility tested for perfluorinated compounds in 2014 and 2015 under an EPA rule for unregulated contaminants. Perfluorinated compounds were not detected in any of the drinking water samples.

For more information, please visit epa.gov/pfas and ecology.wa.gov/pfas.

How Can I Get Involved?

The City of Renton welcomes your interest in its water system. The Renton City Council is the city’s decision-making body and meets on the first four Mondays of each month at 7 p.m.

The Utilities Committee oversees Water Utility issues. They meet the third Monday of the month at 5 p.m.

At the time of publication, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, councilmembers will be attending meetings remotely through Zoom. Public testimony during public hearings and audience comments will be accommodated through Zoom and by telephone, but the public is requested to sign up for such testimony by emailing cityclerk@rentonwa.gov in advance.

Members of the Utilities Committee for 2020 are:

Valerie O’Halloran, Chair
Angelina Benedetti, Vice-Chair
Ryan McIrvin, Member

Call the City Clerk’s office at 425-430-6510 for meeting or agenda information, or check the City Council calendar at rentonwa.gov/council.

Image of 2019 Renton Water Quality Results

Image of 2019 SPU Water Quality Results

How Can We Help You?

Questions about this report:

Water Utility Engineering at 425-430-7287
Water discoloration, taste, or odor:
Water Quality at 425-430-7400
(7 a.m.–3:30 p.m.) or 425-430-7500 after hours or weekends

EMERGENCIES: Call 911

To report water pressure problems, water leaking
in the streets, or water leaking at a meter:

Water Maintenance at 425-430-7400 (7 a.m.–3:30 p.m.) or 425-430-7500 after hours or weekends

If you are moving and need to arrange for a change of water service, or for general billing questions: Utility Billing at 425-430-6852

This report is written and distributed in compliance with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which requires water utilities to provide annual “consumer confidence” reports to their customers. You will find in this report: where our drinking water comes from; what minerals or chemicals it contains; how it compares to stringent water quality standards; what Renton is doing to protect our water supply; and what we are doing to wisely use and conserve our regional water supply. Hopefully this report will help you better understand your drinking water. We assure you that providing high quality and safe drinking water is one of Renton’s highest priorities.

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