Water Quality Report

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2018 Annual Water Quality Report

Released May 7th, 2018, includes data from 2017

If you would like to request a paper copy of this report be mailed to your home, please call (434) 970-3800 or email  waterquality@charlottesville.org.

Additional copies are available in the lobby of City Hall, the Utility Billing Office, and the lobby of public libraries on Market St. and Gordon Ave. To download a PDF version of this report, click here.

For the Spanish-speaking members of our community: Este Informe contiene información  muy importante.  Traduzcalo o hable con un amigo quien lo entienda bien.

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA), and the City of Charlottesville (City), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), work to ensure that you receive a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.  As part of that ongoing commitment, we are providing you with this report on the quality of your drinking water.  While this annual report is currently required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), we wish to use this opportunity to assure you that the quality of your drinking water meets and exceeds all regulatory requirements and your expectations for safety, reliability and quality. RWSA collects, stores, and treats the water; then the City buys the treated water from RWSA and distributes it to you through their distribution system.

Ragged Mountain Dam October 23 2015

Ragged Mountain Reservoir: October 2015

Where does my water come from?

RWSA operates two water treatment plants (WTP) that provide water to the City of Charlottesville. The plants are the South Rivanna WTP and the Observatory WTP. Each plant employs both chemical and physical treatment processes before releasing water into the distribution system. Sodium hypochlorite is used at both South Rivanna and Observatory for disinfection. Fluoride is added at all treatment plants to promote good dental health. The water treatment plant that provides water to your tap may vary from day to day depending on the daily production of water at each plant, the level of storage in the system and your location. 

Water_Service_Areas_CCCR 04-2017

The North Rivanna WTP draws water from the North Fork Rivanna River and serves customers located in Northern Albemarle County.  The South Rivanna WTP draws water from the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.  The Observatory WTP draws water from both the Ragged Mountain and Sugar Hollow Reservoirs. See image of our water service areas on the left provided by RWSA in April 2017.

Under a program developed by VDH, a source water assessment for the Albemarle/Charlottesville Urban Area was completed by the VDH on March 25 and September 4, 2002. This assessment determined that the raw water sources named above may be susceptible to contamination. All surface water sources are exposed to a wide array of contaminants at varying concentrations and changing hydrologic, hydraulic and atmospheric conditions that promote migration of contaminants from land use activities of concern within the assessment area. More specific information may be obtained by contacting the water system representative listed at the end of the page.

What standards does my water have to meet?

The information in this report has been collected and reported in accordance with the drinking water standards established by the USEPA and the VDH. In 2017, RWSA collected and tested hundreds of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual samples to ensure the quality of your water. Sample sources included the rivers and reservoirs from which the WTPs draw water, the WTPs themselves, and numerous locations in the City’s distribution system. For more information on how your water is treated, Click Here.

The sources of drinking water may include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals, and in some cases radioactive material, as well as substances resulting from the presence of animals or 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 EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) or visit their website (www.epa.gov/safewater).

Revised Treatment Process Coming Soon

RWSA was granted an extension by the VDH to the new, stricter requirements of the Stage 2 Disinfectant Byproducts Rule (TTHM/HAA5) regulations while improvements can be completed at the RWSA WTPs to incorporate an advanced treatment process that employs granular activated carbon (GAC). RWSA will complete these upgrades at all of their plants in 2018. Until then, RWSA is adding powered activated carbon (PAC) at each WTP as one means of helping to meet the new water quality standards and to provide the best water possible. In addition to lowering the levels of disinfection by-products, the use of GAC should improve the taste and odor of your water.

Additional Information for Lead

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. RWSA and the City are responsible for providing high quality drinking water by using corrosion inhibitors added to the water to coat the pipes and having only lead-free pipes installed to carry drinking water; however, we cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components of homes and 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. Also, use cold water and not hot water for drinking and cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. The periodic lead and copper testing at select, high-risk households took place in the summer of 2016 (see chart data). Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791)or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

What if I am immuno-compromised?

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. USEPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) or visit their website (www.epa.gov/safewater).

Cryptosporidium in Drinking Water

Cryptosporidium is a microbial pathogen found in surface waters throughout the United States. Ingestion of Cryptosporidium may cause an abdominal infection characterized by nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps that healthy individuals can overcome within a few weeks. However immuno-compromised people are at risk of developing a potentially life-threatening illness. In November 2003, RWSA began a two year study to determine the occurrence of this parasite in the raw sources of each of the three Urban Area WTPs. Results of that monitoring do reveal its occasional presence in very small concentrations (< 0.05 organisms per liter) in our reservoirs. Although filtration removes Cryptosporidium, the most commonly used filtration methods cannot guarantee 100% removal. The RWSA makes every effort to optimize the filtration processes at all of the WTPs to ensure the greatest degree of Cryptosporidium removal. Based on the results of this study, RWSA have been placed in the lowest risk category for exposure to Cryptosporidium. A second round of Cryptosporidium sampling is being conducted monthly for two years in 2015 – 2017; to date no Cryptosporidium has been detected in any of the source waters as part of that monitoring program.


Fluoridated water is highly supported by the Virginia Department of Health, the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the majority of health professionals in the U.S. Please visit www.cdc.gov/fluoridation if you would like further information on the health impacts of fluoridated water.

What is Water Hardness?

If substantial amounts of either calcium or magnesium (both nontoxic minerals) are present in drinking water, the water is said to be hard. The hardness of finished water in the City water system averages 26.0 mg/L which is equivalent to 1.51 grains per gallon. This is mainly calcium. The water may be described as soft to slightly hard.

Thank You for Conserving Water: How You can Make a Difference in Your Community

The City of Charlottesville would like to thank the community for their dedication to water conservation during the 2017 drought that affected the local water supply. The mandatory water restrictions that the City implemented, along with rainfall events, modifications to operations procedures, and citizens volunteering to use water wisely, allowed the City to maintain acceptable water supplies without affecting quality or reliability of service. In order to appropriately address and reduce drought-related impacts, the City of Charlottesville and its partners will continue to refine the comprehensive Drought Management Response Plan.

The City of Charlottesville is committed to water conservation and encourages simple yet effective indoor water conservation practices like shorter showers and fixing leaks. The City offers water conservation kits with WaterSense labeled showerheads and faucet aerators at the Office of Utility Billing in City Hall. Toilet rebates, designed to incentivize the replacement of older high volume flush toilets with new WaterSense toilers, are available to all City residents. A WaterSense toilet has the ability to be at least 20% more efficient than standard fixtures, while maintaining the same performance level. Rain barrel rebates are also available to all homeowners and renters who wish to install and use ranwater for irrigation while conserving community potable water supplies. For more information on the City's water conservation rebates and resources go to www.charlottesville.org/waterconservation.

What were the results from last year’s testing?

 The table in this report shows which contaminants were detected in your drinking water.  Before trying to read and understand the table, there are a few terms which need to be defined. 

  • MAXIMUM CONTAMINANT LEVEL GOAL (MCLG): The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected health risk.  MCLGs allow for a margin of safety.
  • MAXIMUM CONTAMINANT LEVEL (MCL): The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as possible using the best available treatment technology.
  • MAXIMUM RESIDUAL DISINFECTANT LEVEL (MRDL): The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is growing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.
  • MAXIMUM RESIDUAL DISINFECTANT LEVEL GOAL (MRDLG): 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 contamination.
  • PPB:  Parts per billion, or micrograms per liter (ug/L). One part substance per billion parts of solution.
  • PPM: Parts per million, or milligrams per liter (mg/L). One part substance per million parts of solution.
  • pCi/L: Picocuries per liter.  This is a measure of radioactivity.
  • N/A: Not applicable.
  • NEPHELOMETRIC TURBIDITY UNIT (NTU): Nephelometric turbidity unit is a measure of the clarity of water.  Turbidity in excess of 5 NTU is just noticeable to the average person.
  • ACTION LEVEL (AL): The concentration of a contaminant, which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other actions by the water provider.
  • TREATMENT TECHNIQUE (TT): A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.
  • NON DETECT (ND): Test result below the method detection limit.


Click Here for a PDF of the 2018 Annual Water Quality Report Data Table

What do all these numbers mean?

Most importantly, this information shows that your drinking water met and exceeded all regulatory requirements during 2017. We are fortunate to have reliable sources for our drinking water needs and well-operated treatment facilities. Additional information is provided below that will give you more details on each contaminant detected in your drinking water.

What are these contaminants and their potential health risks? 

  • TURBIDITY is a measure of the clarity of the water and has no health effects. However, turbidity can interfere with disinfection and may provide a medium for microbial growth. Elevated turbidity may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms.
  • TOTAL COLIFORM AND E. COLI BACTERIA. Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other, potentially harmful, bacteria may be present. E. coli in particular may indicate the presence of human or animal waste. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special healthy risk for infants, young children, and people with severely compromised immune systems.
  • COMBINED RADIUM, AND ALPHA AND BETA PARTICLES are naturally occurring.  Certain minerals are radioactive and may emit forms of radiation.  When these minerals are eroded into the source water, testing may indicate their presence. Some people who drink water containing radium, or alpha or beta emitters, over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
  • BARIUM is a metal that is naturally-occurring in rock and the soil. Some people who drink water containing barium in excess of the MCL over many years may experience an increase in their blood pressure.
  • FLUORIDE is added at the water treatment plant to promote strong teeth. Some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of the MCL over many years could develop bone disease with pain and tenderness of the bones.
  • The 1994 Federal LEAD and COPPER Rule mandates a household testing program for these substances.  The values reported above are from this household-testing program.  No lead or copper was found in the drinking water at the WTPs.
  • LEAD. Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Children should show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults over many years could possibly develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.
  • COPPER. Copper is an essential nutrient, but some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level over a relatively short period of time could experience gastrointestinal distress. People with Wilson’s disease should consult their doctor.
  • NITRATE is an inorganic form of nitrogen found primarily in fertilizers, sewage, and runoff from natural deposits. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and “blue baby” syndrome.
  • TRIHALOMETHANES AND HALOACETIC ACIDS are formed by the interaction of disinfectants with naturally occurring organic matter.  Disinfectants are added to inactivate disease-causing pathogens.  Organic matter is naturally present from leaves and decaying plants in the reservoir. Some people who drink water containing these compounds in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
  • CHLORINE is a water additive used to control disease-causing microbes. Some people who use water containing chlorine well in excess of the MRDL could experience irritation effects to their eyes, skin, nose, as well as stomach discomfort.

How do I get more information?

 The City of Charlottesville and the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority are committed to providing you, the customer, with this information because informed customers are our best allies.  We hope that this report was easy to read and easy to understand.  We encourage you to contact us and let us know what you think about your Consumer Confidence Report.  Suggestions on how to make your CCR better are welcomed. For more information about your water and for any comments, you can contact Lauren Hildebrand at (434) 970-3800 or at Hildebrand@charlottesville.org.

 Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority Board of Directors holds a monthly meeting in which there is a public comment period.  These meetings are held every fourth Tuesday at 2:15 pm in the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority’s Administration Building conference room, 2nd floor, 695 Moores Creek Lane, Charlottesville.  Please feel free to attend. Contact (434) 977-2970 for directions or the date of the next meeting.


If you receive water from Albemarle County Service Authority, please CLICK HERE for the appropriate Annual Water Quality Report for your area.

For a Full Record of  Charlottesville's Annual Water Quality Reports: Click Here

water pouring into glass