Safe, Clean, Reliable Water

Lead in Drinking Water

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 internal plumbing. RWSA and the ACSA are responsible for providing high quality drinking water; it is non-corrosive, has a corrosion inhibitor added to the water to coat the pipes, and is delivered to you in pipes that are free of lead. However, we cannot control the variety of materials used in the plumbing components of houses 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. 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 last occurred in the summer of 2016 (see the data chart). Only a trace amount of lead was found in one (1) of 30 samples. 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:

water fountain


The naturally-occurring fluoride content of our source waters (reservoirs and streams) is quite low. Therefore, fluoride is added to your water at the treatment plants to promote good dental health. Fluoridation of drinking water was first introduced in the United States in the 1940s, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named it one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), jointly with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recommended that the level of fluoride added to drinking water be reduced from a range of 0.7-1.2 ppm to 0.7 ppm. The RWSA put this change into effect at all treatment plants immediately. The main reason for this proposed action is that Americans have access to more sources of fluoride than they did decades ago. In addition to the fluoride added to many public water supplies, it is found in toothpastes and mouth rinses, and is routinely applied to children’s teeth by dental professionals. HHS officially decreased the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water to 0.7 ppm in 2015. The average amount of fluoride added to your water in 2017 was 0.76 ppm

Urban CCR


Dear Customer:

Each and every day we work hard to provide you with safe, dependable, high-quality drinking water, and each day a number of water quality tests are conducted to assure that you continue to receive this high-quality water. Your drinking water again met or exceeded all regulatory requirements in 2017.

The Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), work cooperatively to ensure that you receive a safe and reliable supply of drinking water. The RWSA collects, stores and treats the water, while the ACSA purchases the treated water and delivers it to you through our distribution system.

The ACSA is committed to providing you, the customer, with this information since informed customers are indeed our best allies. We hope you find this report easy to read and understand. We encourage you to contact us and tell us what you think of the report; your suggestions on how to improve it are always welcomed. If you wish to receive a “hard-copy” of the report, please contact Tim Brown at 977-4511, Ext. 119, or at

Thank you,

Gary B. O'Connell,
Executive Director
Albemarle County Service Authority

Your Water Supply and Treatment

The RWSA operates three water treatment plants (WTP) to provide water to the City of Charlottesville and the urban “ring” served by the ACSA. The plants, with their source of water indicated in parentheses, are as follows:

  • South Rivanna WTP (South Rivanna Reservoir).
  • Observatory WTP (Ragged Mountain and Sugar Hollow Reservoirs).
  • North Rivanna WTP (North Fork Rivanna River).

All are surface water supplies, replenished by precipitation, stream flow, overland runoff, and groundwater flow. All supplies have a low mineral content, are quite “soft” (low in hardness, or scale), and there is little of the iron or manganese that is commonly found with the groundwater of this area.

Each plant employs both physical and chemical treatment processes before releasing water into the distribution system. Sodium hypochlorite is used at all three plants to disinfect the treated water. Fluoride is added at each plant to promote good dental health. The plant that provides water to your tap may vary from time to time depending on demand, the level of storage in the system, and your location.

Planned design changes by the RWSA at all three plants will improve the treatment process, and thus, the quality of the water we deliver to you. Specifically, an effort is being made to reduce the formation of chemicals called disinfection by-products (TTHMs and HAAs; see discussion of contaminants).

The RWSA was granted an extension by the VDH related to the new, stricter requirements of the Stage 2 disinfection by-products rule until significant upgrades could be completed. An advanced treatment process that employs granular activated carbon (GAC) is being installed at each plant to result in higher quality water. These upgrades will be completed at all three plants in the spring of 2018. In the interim, powdered activated carbon (PAC) is available at each plant to meet the new water quality standards.

In addition to lowering the levels of disinfection by-products, the use of GAC should improve the taste and odor of your water, as well.

Urban Water Supply

Ragged Mountain Reservoir


To review the testing performed and the results, click here.

Water Quality Testing

Water Quality Standards

The information in this report has been collected and reported in accordance with the drinking water standards established by the USEPA and the VDH. The RWSA conducts extensive testing of the source water (reservoirs; river) and the treated water before it ever leaves the plants and enters the ACSA distribution system. Samples within the distribution system are collected weekly, monthly, and quarterly for further testing. In addition to the data contained inside this report, other testing includes such parameters as the “heavy” metals, volatile organic compounds, and pesticides in the treated water. They are not listed here since none of these parameters was detected. More specific information may be obtained by contacting Tim Brown at 977-4511, ext. 119, or at

As water travels over the surface of 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, and human activities. In other words, all surface water supplies are exposed to a wide array of “contaminants” at varying concentrations. The presence of contaminants, however, does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk, and even bottled water may reasonably be expected to contain at least minimal amounts of some contaminants. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791), or  by visiting their website (  See also the discussion of Cryptosporidium.

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 by visiting their website (

Internal Issues of Mildew

The most common “water quality” complaint that we have received from our residential customers over the past several years, particularly in the Urban Area and Crozet, is the occasional appearance of a black growth in the toilets, on the aerator screens at the end of faucets, in shower heads, or on other surfaces that stay constantly moist. This is a harmless form of mildew, and the water is safe to drink. The mildew is not coming into your home through our water pipes. Rather, airborne spores that get into your home result in this growth, and there is not enough chlorine disinfectant in the water to prevent it from occurring. The spores come from our hardwood forests, from construction sites, and from mulch piles. In particular, we have seen a very clear link between mildew and mulch supplies for several years. More information, including tips on control, can be obtained by clicking here.