Trust Your Tap Water: Water Quality Engineers Ensure the SFPUC’s Water Is Safe to Drink

The drinking water served by the SFPUC is among the best in the country. During these stressful times, customers do not need to worry about their tap water. The SFPUC employs a multi-step treatment process that removes and kills viruses, including coronaviruses such as COVID-19, as well as bacteria and other pathogens. The SFPUC’s treatment plants use several disinfectants, including ultraviolet light, chlorine, and ozone, to provide 10 to 60 times the required level of treatment for viruses. There is no need to buy bottled water, boil tap water or purchase home treatment for tap water during this shelter-in-place. The reason for this certainty is because of the hard working staff at the SFPUC’s Water Quality Division.

The SFPUC’s Water Quality staff work in one of three major Sections: Environmental/Field Services who travel around to our source waters, treatment facilities, and water transmission and distribution systems and take samples every single day; Laboratory Services who test these water samples every single day, and Water Quality Engineering who monitor the test results and work with the SFPUC’s water treatment facilities to ensure that treatment processes continue to protect the drinking water from pathogens.

Raymond Mah, SFPUC Water Quality Engineer.

The SFPUC must meet the water quality regulations set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water. We constantly monitor key factors in the drinking water at all points in the system to ensure the water continues to be safe to drink. This includes chlorine residual – which tells the SFPUC’s engineers how much disinfectant is in the water at all times to kill viruses. Water Quality Engineers work with the agency’s treatment plants on their processes to ensure drinking water meets these regulations. This monitoring and verification is on-going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and has not changed.

Manouchehr Boozarpour, SFPUC Water Quality Engineering Section Manager describes it this way. “We continue to disinfect the water as usual. Our normal treatment process and chlorine disinfection kills viruses very quickly. After the treatment we have our disinfectant residual. This ensures that the water stays safe to drink.”

The Regulatory agencies have identified water quality monitoring and regulatory compliance as essential functions that must continue during the shelter in place. Boozarpour and his staff continue to report to work. Many telecommute if they can. Others report to work but follow social distancing guidelines. Water Quality engineers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are in regular contact with the operators of our system from Hetch Hetchy all the way to San Francisco. They review the water quality data constantly and advise if any adjustments are needed.

SFPUC Water Quality Engineer Jacquelyne Cho.

“For us this is work as usual,” says Boozarpour. “Water is flowing and we have to make sure that we maintain the water quality and we have the proper monitoring and analysis.”

Boozarpour and his staff of Water Quality Engineers are part of a large team that makes sure our customers’ water continues to be the best quality and safe to drink.

“We are confident that there is no issue with coronavirus and our drinking water,” concludes Boozarpour.