Water Quality FAQ

Frequently asked questions


What causes the musty taste and odor I sometimes find in my water?

Sometimes microscopic plants called algae multiply rapidly in the New Mexico reservoirs during the hot summer months. This causes a distinctly different taste and odor to develop in El Paso’s water, which is derived from the Rio Grande. This problem is normally short lived. Activated carbon is used at the water treatment plants to absorb these algae-related tastes and odors. Even if the musty smell and taste are apparent, the water is safe to drink.


Does El Paso have hard water? Should I install a water softener?

Water hardness is defined by the amount of calcium and magnesium present. When the levels are comparatively low, water is described as soft. When the levels are comparatively high, water is described as hard. Water in El Paso is described as moderately hard to hard. Harder water does not lather as easily and does not form as many suds when using soap or detergent. However, there is increasing evidence that the presence of calcium and magnesium found in hard water is desirable for good cardio-vascular health. We do not recommend the installation of water softeners for drinking water.


Is fluoride added to El Paso’s water?

Fluoride is a substance that is known to retard the formation of cavities in teeth. In some communities, fluoride is added to drinking water. The American Dental Association recommends a concentration of one part per million. However, fluoride occurs naturally in El Paso’s water at the optimal level. Bottled water usually does not contain fluoride, and therefore is not recommended for children. Because too much fluoride can be detrimental, the maximum level set by EPA standards is four parts per million.


Is the chlorine used to disinfect water dangerous?

El Paso uses chlorine to disinfect our drinking water. Chlorine has been used in municipal water in the U.S. since 1908, and it is the most effective way to ensure that water stays disinfected as it travels through water delivery systems. Chlorine prevents water-borne epidemics such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. The maximum amount of chlorine in El Paso’s water is usually two parts per million. Chlorine in this quantity poses no adverse health risks.


What causes water to sometimes appear discolored or rusty?

Rusting in galvanized pipes in plumbing systems is the typical cause of discolored water. In some cases, rusty or dirty water may come from the distribution system as a result of a main break or fire hydrant use. Iron causes the discoloration, but it is not a health risk. Usually, rusty water will clear after running for a few minutes. Although rusty or dirty water does not create a health risk, we recommend that you do NOT drink water that is not clear. If the water does not clear after running or if clothing is stained in the wash, please call El Paso Water for assistance at 915-594-5733.


Is lithium present in El Paso’s water? Does it have an effect on people’s moods?

A small amount of lithium occurs naturally in El Paso’s water. The amount is considerably less than a medical dosage. Lithium is sometimes use by doctors to treat mental disorders. To get the same amount of lithium as one standard capsule, you would have to drink about 600 glasses of water.


What is the arsenic situation in El Paso?

When the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of arsenic in drinking water changed in 2006 from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb, El Paso Water constructed a $76 million arsenic treatment plant to stay in compliance. The 30-million-gallon per day treatment plant removes naturally occurring arsenic from Mesilla Bolson groundwater.

Should I be concerned about lead in El Paso’s drinking water?

Lead is not a problem in El Paso’s drinking water. There is no lead in the source waters used for El Paso’s drinking water, nor is there lead in the pipelines that carry water through the city or in the service lines that lead into businesses and homes. In older homes (pre-1989), lead may have been used in some plumbing fixtures. El Paso Water monitors lead levels throughout our systems. Very low levels of lead have been detected in some older homes, but levels were well below limits set by the EPA.

Would a home water purification device make my water safer?

If you are an El Paso Water customer, these devices are not necessary to make your water safe. Your water is safe as it comes from the tap. If not properly maintained, water purification devices may actually cause problems with your water, including uncontrolled growth of disease-causing bacteria.

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