COVID-19 UPDATE | The City is coordinating closely with our public health officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Department to prevent the further spread COVID-19. In an effort to protect you and our community, changes and measures have been adopted in daily operations and activities. For further details please click here for the City’s Response to COVID-19

Water Quality

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Our mission at the Santa Cruz Water Department is to ensure public health by providing a safe, clean and reliable supply of water. In addition, we strive to provide water that is aesthetically appealing, both in smell and taste.

Most of Santa Cruz drinking water comes from flowing sources such as rivers and streams. Only about 5% comes from groundwater. All of our drinking water is treated, and most of it is treated at the Graham Hill Water Treatment Facility.

Read the 2019 Consumer Confidence Report to learn about the safety and cleanliness of your drinking water. 

The Water Quality Lab monitors raw water sources, finished water, and distributed water. In 1990, an EPA-certified laboratory was built to increase the analytical capabilities in microbiology, inorganic chemistry, and organic chemistry. Performing hundreds of tests year-round, our monitoring program exceeds the state and federal requirements for testing.


When you think about how we ensure that your drinking water is safe and clean, you probably think about the treatment it receives at the treatment plant. But we strive to keep water safe and clean before it ever gets to the treatment plant, as well as when it’s in the pipes on its way to your home. We do this by working to protect the watersheds where the water comes from, and from careful management of the water delivery system.

Water treatment is complex and watersheds are dynamic environments. That means that our knowledge of our water sources must also be dynamic. With that in mind, we have begun voluntarily testing water for “constituents of emerging concern” or “CECs.” CECs can be defined as a broad range of unregulated chemical components, typically from pharmaceuticals and personal care products, which can be found at trace levels in many drinking water supplies. What we learn about CECs in our water supply today can help inform how we treat water in the future.

To read a report on testing for CECs, please click here.