Can You Drink The Tap Water In San Francisco?

Drinking water from the tap throughout the US can seem risky. Is it too hard? Will it make you sick? There are a thousand questions revolving around the safety of drinking tap water. San Francisco tap water is no different!

Scientists and authorities are working to determine the safety of the tap water in San Francisco and whether it should be consumed by the citizens on a regular basis. 

In this article, we will discuss whether you can drink tap water in San Francisco safely. Or if you should stick to your trusty bottled water in order to avoid having any health issues. 

Quality of tap water in San Francisco

The 2020 Water Quality Report of San Francisco contains the most recent figures for measured pollutant levels. It can be seen that there are certain minerals that are acceptable and meet the EPA standards. However, this doesn’t mean that you are drinking healthy, clean water.

As the EPA assesses the long-term effects of contaminants and changes the allowable levels for drinking water, laws are always changing. The laws governing arsenic, lead, and copper are currently being reviewed.

While San Francisco may be ruled safe, you should also consider getting your tap water tested. This will determine the true safety of your tap water and whether you should invest in a water filter to improve the quality. 

Source of San Francisco drinking water

Source Of San Francisco Drinking Water 

Drinking water throughout San Francisco comes from a range of sources which are protected by the SFPUC. These sources include groundwater supplies kept in a deep aquifer in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, as well as surface water kept in reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada, Alameda County, and San Mateo County.

This is a critical strategy to prolong the water supply during emergencies or natural disasters. It aids in maintaining a strong supply of water to the state in times of drought and population growth.

Since 2017, a small portion of the water supply has come from the city digging six wells spanning from Golden Gate Park to San Bruno.

This is to diversify the water supply and tap into the underground aquifer. A tiny portion of the water will be mixed with the Hetch Hetchy drinking water that will be sent to customers.

Safety of San Francisco tap water

The San Francisco Bay’s main source of pollution is stormwater. The Bay’s water quality regulations are broken when rain causes trash, oil, pesticides, fertilizers, home chemicals, and legacy harmful contaminants to be washed into the Bay.

In order to sterilize the water supply, it is disinfected with chloramine. Chloramine is an ammonia-based solution. Whilst other cities and states use chlorine to disinfect their water, San Francisco uses Chloramine which keeps the drinking water cleaner for longer as it moves through the pipes to your homes.

While tap water that complies with EPA health standards often won’t give you the stomach flu, it may still include regulated and unregulated toxins in minute concentrations that could eventually harm your health.

Furthermore, immunocompromised and susceptible people may be harmed by these trace pollutants.

Hardness of San Francisco tap water

As you use the tap water in San Francisco you may wonder whether it is hard or soft.

Hard water has high levels of magnesium and calcium making it thicker than soft water. When using hard water to shower you may find your skin and hair becoming a lot more dry than when using soft water. However, hard water is safe to drink, it just may not taste as good as filtered water.

The hardness of water is determined by the mineral content. San Francisco’s tap water often lies in the range of 45 to 50 TDS, making it soft in comparison to other states.

However, once the ground water from the wells is added this will increase to 70-120 TDS making it harder. 

Tap water in hotels and restaurants

While you can drink tap water in the hotels and restaurants of San Francisco, the establishments will often provide bottled water as a replacement.

Hospitality businesses are under no legal obligation to provide tap water but will often do it as a courtesy. Although, customers are more likely to request a bottle of water as it generally tastes nicer.

If you are visiting San Francisco you may find it beneficial to purchase bottled water for your hotel room. However, if you do drink water from the tap, there is no health risk.

Lead levels in San Francisco tap water

Recently it has been discovered that San Francisco’s water supply contains 0.006mg/L of lead. This can seem frightening as no amount of lead in water is healthy, however, the level of lead within the water varies from neighborhood to neighborhood.

There is no safe level of lead in water; there is just a less dangerous level. Lead builds up in our bodies over time, so even exposure to little amounts can have detrimental consequences on our health.

In order to determine the amount of lead in your tap water, organize to have your water tested. Once tested proceed on methods and processes to remove lead from water.

Final thoughts

Can you drink the tap water in San Francisco?

Yes! You can drink water straight from the tap throughout San Francisco. And you might find that it tastes rather nice.

The water supply is disinfected with Chloramine making it clean and safe for consumption. And it is also considered soft water so should have less drying effects on your skin and hair.

However, if this article is not enough to give you the reassurance you need, you can still purchase bottled water at the store or in a restaurant.

Residents of San Francisco are encouraged to get their water tested to maintain the levels of lead within their water. This is due to the combination of the Hetch Hetchy water and the water taken from the wells where stormwater may naturally pollute the water quality.

But you are more than safe to grab yourself a glass of refreshingly cold tap water to keep yourself hydrated!