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Water

Safe and Clean

As a water customer of the Metropolitan Utilities District, you receive a high quality product that meets every federal and state standard for safe drinking water. To see the 2013 Water Quality Report, click this link: http://www.mudomaha.com/sites/default/files/CCR2013.pdf or look to the right in the Water Quality Reports box.

The average M.U.D. residential customer uses 89,000 gallons of water per year. The cost for 89,000 gallons in 2014 is $335.86 including service fee, $4 infrastructure replacement charge and 2-percent payment to cities. Our customer-owners continue to enjoy among the lowest water rates in the U.S. and the midwest. What you pay for water provides adequate system maintenance, offsets the rising costs of power and chemicals, and assures a safe drinking water supply.

Water Quality

Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha serves 205,250 customers an average of about 90 million gallons of water per day. As a customer of the District, you receive a high quality product that meets every federal and state standard for safe drinking water.

To see the 2013 Consumer Confidence/Water Quality Report, click this link: http://www.mudomaha.com/sites/default/files/CCR2013.pdf , or look at the box on the right for a list of annual water quality reports.

Since we do not have the capability or resources to determine health risks of chemical compounds found in the water, we must rely on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Nebraska Health and Human Services to tell us what substances are a health risk and if they are a health risk, what levels are safe for human consumption.

To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA prescribes regulations to limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water, which must provide the same protection for public health.

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 risks may be obtained by calling the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline, 800.426.4791, or visiting their website: http://water.epa.gov/drink/.

Fluoride in drinking water

M.U.D. adds fluoride to its treated water to promote dental health. Fluoridation was approved by Omaha voters May 14, 1968, by a vote of 54,185 in favor to 39,827 opposed.

In 2008, the Nebraska Unicameral passed LB 245 which requires all Nebraska cities and towns with populations over 1,000 to add fluoride to public water systems.

The Missouri River has naturally occurring fluoride in the range of 0.5 to 0.6 parts per million and the Platte River has it in the range of 0.25 to 0.4 parts per million. The District adds enough fluoride to make the tap water concentration approximately 0.8 parts per million.

M.U.D. consults with the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regarding any adjustments to fluoride in its treatment process.

Questions about drinking water? Call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791 or go to their website: http://water.epa.gov/drink/.

Chloramines in drinking water

Chloramines, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, are used to kill potentially harmful bacteria in the water. Approximately 20 percent of water supply systems in the U.S., including Council Bluffs and Lincoln, use chloramine as a disinfection agent.

M.U.D. changed the water disinfection process at its water treatment plants January 21, 2003 to ensure your drinking water continues to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for safe drinking water.

Previously, we used chlorine for both primary and secondary disinfection in the water treatment process to guard against bacterial growth in the distribution system. Like many other communities, we experienced elevated levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) with chlorine as a disinfectant. THMs are a suspected carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), created in small amounts as a by-product when natural organics in water combine with chlorine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the standard to 80 parts per billion January 1, 2002, as the maximum level of THMs allowed in drinking water. Our treated water averaged 74 parts per billion. The District may have exceeded the new standard on occasion with only chlorine as a disinfectant.

The EPA recommends chloramines as a disinfectant and as a way to avoid THM formation. Chloramines insure water remains bacteria-free for a longer time period than chlorine. With chloramines, we expect the THM level to average 40 parts per billion. Chlorine continues to be the primary disinfectant. Chloramines are used for secondary disinfection. Estimated costs to use chloramines are $3.7 million for capital improvements and $200,000 per year for operation costs.

Lead in drinking water

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the major source of lead exposure for children in the United States is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. So far there does not appear to be a national problem with lead in drinking water, however U.S. EPA is looking into this. U.S. EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule seems to be working as intended. Where there is a compliance problem, U.S. EPA or a State may take action to correct the situation.

If there is lead in my drinking water, where does it come from?
Lead in drinking water rarely comes from the water treatment plant or from water mains. Lead comes from faucets, plumbing fixtures and lead solder within the home and from lead service lines, if they are present. Lead is seldom found in natural sources of drinking water.

Why is there lead in my faucets and fixtures?
In 1986, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to allow faucets and other plumbing fixtures to contain up to 8% lead. Congress defined such fixtures as “lead-free.”

What happens if a water system exceeds the 15 ppb Action Level? 
According to U.S EPA, the 15 ppb Action Level is used to indicate whether corrosion-control efforts are effective and to measure progress in reducing lead levels. All large water systems are required to maintain corrosion control. If a large water system detects lead above 15 ppb in the tap water in more than 10% of a sample set of homes, then the water system further informs the public about the health effects so that consumers can make decisions about the sources of lead in their homes.

What can consumers do?
To reduce exposure from lead, consider using an in-home filter or follow the CDC’s advice on running taps on COLD before drinking. Homeowners who install filters must use filters that are certified to remove lead. Also, read the filter’s instructions on care and use. Homeowners should also install plumbing fixtures containing no lead. Information on plumbing fixtures and in-home filters is provided by the National Sanitation Foundation at 1-800-NSF-MARK or www.nsf.org. Never boil water to remove lead, because this concentrates the lead as water evaporates.

What can Congress do?
Congress currently defines “lead-free” as 8% lead content. Instead, Congress should make illegal the manufacture of faucets and fixtures contributing to lead exposure. This would reduce the amount of lead in drinking water. For more information and tips, see the Centers for Disease Control question and answer page about lead and drinking water: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/spotLights/leadinwater.htm. The U.S. EPA operates a National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-Lead. There is also a useful website at www.epa.gov/lead

Source Water Assessment

As required by the Reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 1996, and the passage of LB 517 by the Nebraska Unicameral in 1997, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) completed a source water assessment of our water supply in 2003.

This assessment includes a map of the sources of water, an inventory of potential contaminant sources, and a determination of the vulnerability of the system to contamination.

Look for a condensed version of the report in the Related Resources box at the right. If you have any questions, contact Water Operations at 402.504.7774.

You also may schedule an appointment to view the source water assessment in its entirety.

Home treatment

Home water treatment devices are not needed since M.U.D. water surpasses all federal and state Safe Drinking Water standards. However, if you're considering the purchase of a home treatment system to enhance the aesthetics of the water:

  1. Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. Find out what the device will remove.
  2. Find out the total cost of maintenance. Some units can harbor disease-causing bacteria if not properly maintained and serviced.

Does using a home water treatment device guarantee my water is safe?
No. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not recommend home treatment devices as a substitute for public water treatment because of the difficulty in monitoring their performance. Home treatment devices are not tested or regulated by the federal government. Some, however, are tested by independent laboratories. If you want to use a water treatment device, carefully choose one according to the water conditions in your area. Also, be aware that a device needs to be properly maintained or it could cause water quality problems.

Cross Connections and Backflow

A Cross Connection is a connection between a potable water supply and one of questionable quality, i.e. water faucet and a garden hose. Connections require an approved backflow prevention assembly. For more information, see the Cross Connection brochure under 'Related Resources' on the right.


 

Commercial Developers and Contractors

Water mains
Mark Masek               James Bartels
402.504.7910    OR     402.504.7912
e-mail                         e-mail
Water Service, Taps & Meters
Builder & Contractor Services
402.504.7014
Rental property owners/managers
402.504.7806
e-mail
 

 

Conservation

The Metropolitan Utilities District takes pride in its public water system and long-range planning which allows it to serve customers’ needs in the metro Omaha area. Recognizing that water is a precious resource, the District has a Water Conservation Plan to promote the wise use of water through public education programs, rate structure and operating plans, and to assure customers receive safe water in sufficient quantity and quality to serve their needs.

Our public education plan promotes the overall wise use of water and encourages water conservation during peak usage periods. The plan reaches residential, commercial and industrial customers, school-aged children, government officials, and regulators. Some of these efforts include:

  • Wise water use messages on customer bill statements, newsletters and new customer booklets.
  • Employee Speakers Bureau water and energy conservation presentations, reaching 200,000 members of the community each year through community events, civic groups, schools, and water plant tours.
  • A water conservation section on our website which includes wise water use tips and links to helpful resources.
  • A wise water use flower garden at the Village Pointe Shopping Center in conjunction with the UNL Extension Office and Master Gardeners.
  • Participation in the Annual “Eyes on Conservation” Water Festival, held at Schramm Park. The Festival attracts approximately 1,600 fifth grade students.

Indoor Wise Water Use

  1. Inspect all pipes and faucets for leaks. Make necessary repairs. If every household in America had a faucet that dripped once each second, we would waste 928 million gallons of water a day or enough to fill 7.5 billion 8 oz. glasses.
  2. Check toilets for hidden leaks. Tank-to-bowl leaks can waste about a quart of water with each flush. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 15 minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Make necessary repairs.

Outdoor Wise Water Use

  1. Water every other day, unless you have new sod.
  2. Water in the early morning, 4 to 10 a.m., to allow grass blades to dry, making them less susceptible to foliar diseases. Watering is more efficient in the morning due to less evaporation and wind speed. Don't water if it's windy.
  3. Measure the amount of water applied to your lawn in a 15-minute period using collection devices such as a tuna or coffee can. Adjust the run time on your sprinkler system to deliver the required amount. Contact a lawn care professional if you need help.
  4. When watering on a slope, use "delayed starts." Run your sprinkler until you notice runoff, then stop. Wait three hours, then resume. Aerate every year or so to increase infiltration.
  5. Observe your sprinkler system once a month. Look for heads that don't turn, heads that spray the street or sidewalk, bent or damaged heads, clogged or worn nozzles or orifices, turf growth around heads that impede water delivery, compaction and run-off.
  6. Adjust heads as landscape plants grow larger and begin to block the spray pattern. New installations of benches, decks, etc., also can decrease irrigation efficiency.
  7. During hot weather, run your sprinklers 5 to 10 minutes per zone to cool the turf and reduce stress. This is called syringing, and it reduces the symptoms of summer patch disease.
  8. Create water zones by putting plants with similar water needs together. Ornamental plants can be grouped into low, moderate and high water users. Each zone of plants can be irrigated according to its needs.
  9. Focus on growing drought-tolerant plants. Once established, a number of beautiful plants, native and non-native, can survive with less than an inch of water a week.
  10. Keep weeds out of flower and vegetable gardens. Weeds steal water away from other plants.
  11. Adjust sprinklers to aim water directly at plants rather than sidewalks, paths, driveways, or fences. Use sprinklers that emit large droplets, again to reduce losses due to evaporation.
  12. On automatic sprinkler systems, install a moisture sensor--a probe placed in the ground that determines when the soil needs water and turns on the sprinkler.
  13. Install drip-irrigation systems and soaker hoses in flower and vegetable gardens, around trees and shrubs, and containers.
  14. Mulch to slow evaporation of moisture from the soil and keep the soil cool. Mulches should be applied no deeper than 3-4 inches. Excessively deep mulches will stimulate root growth in the mulch layer. These roots are more likely to experience winter and drought injury than those growing in soil. Stay with organic mulches, which slowly break down and add organic matter to the soil.
  15. Capture and recycle rainwater by placing barrels or buckets beneath your downspouts. Use it to water your lawn and landscape plants.
  16. Check hose connections for leaks, and repair them quickly. When you use a hose, attach a hose nozzle that can be shut off when not in use. A single hose left on uses nearly 300 gallons of water an hour.
  17. In hot, dry weather, use a broom instead of water to clean patios, sidewalks and driveways.
  18. Know your soil's water needs. Clay soils require slow watering. They dry out slowly and need infrequent watering. Sandy soils dry out quickly and require more frequent watering.
  19. Improve the soil to hold more water and oxygen by adding organic matter. Mix grass clippings and leaves into flower beds, vegetable gardens or newly-worked soil. Start a compost pile to recycle yard waste back to the garden.
  20. Reduce fertilization unless you're applying enough water to keep plants growing vigorously. Heavy fertilizer applications make lawns require more water or the high salts may burn plants.

Water Alert Emergency Plan

Adopted by the M.U.D. Board of Directors, March 2, 1994; revised May 1, 2002 

The responsibility for calling for these alerts will be with the President and will be based on consultations with the Senior Vice President of Operations and with the Vice President of Water Operations.  Once the decision has been made, it will be the responsibility of the Senior Vice President, Chief Customer Officer and the Director of Corporate Communication to make the appropriate notification to the news media.

All of the following actions or restrictions may only be required in certain sections of the system, depending on circumstances.  In this case the press releases will include a delineation of the restricted area.

Level 1: Voluntary Alternate Day Watering

Trigger: Water consumption reaches 95 percent (about 300 million gallons per day) of available supply or system capacity, or any of the water storage reservoirs cannot be refilled from day to day, or low pressure jeopardizes fire fighting or causes numerous customer complaints.

Action:

  1. The M.U.D. Director of Communications will issue a press release to notify the public we are issuing the alert. The press release will include a basic list of water conservation tips.
  2. M.U.D. will limit hydrant flushing and main filling, comply with alternate day water restrictions, and shut down decorative fountains at the Florence Plant and the Headquarters Building.
  3. All customers will be asked to voluntarily adhere to alternate day watering. Customers will be asked to water no more often than every other day. Customers may use their own discretion regarding which days they water and which days they refrain from watering.
  4. Customers will be told what to expect if a Level 2 Alert is issued.
  5. All customers will be asked to voluntarily discontinue hosing down driveways, shut off decorative fountains, discontinue filling swimming pools, and other actions deemed appropriate by M.U.D.
  6. The City of Omaha and other municipalities served by M.U.D. will be asked to voluntarily comply with alternate day watering restrictions, curtail sewer flushing, lake filling, fire fighting drills, street washing and other non-essential uses of water.

Enforcement: None

Level 2: Voluntary No Watering Days

Purpose: Specified no-watering days will allow M.U.D. to fill water system reservoirs. Trigger: Water consumption reaches 95 percent of available supply or system capacity, or any of the water storage reservoirs cannot be refilled from day to day, or low pressure jeopardizes fire fighting or causes numerous customer complaints.

Action:

  1. The M.U.D. Director of Communications will issue a press release to notify the public that we are issuing the alert. The press release will include a basic list of water conservation tips.
  2. M.U.D. will limit hydrant flushing and main filling, comply with no-watering day restrictions, and shut down decorative fountains at the Florence Plant and the Headquarters Building.
  3. All customers will be asked to voluntarily discontinue all outdoor uses of water on specified days. The days will be determined by M.U.D. at the time the alert is issued. They will allow one full day after the press release for notification.
  4. All customers will be asked to voluntarily discontinue hosing down driveways, shut off decorative fountains, discontinue filling swimming pools, and other actions deemed appropriate by M.U.D.
  5. The City of Omaha and other municipalities served by M.U.D. will be asked to voluntarily comply with no-watering day restrictions, curtail sewer flushing, lake filling, fire fighting drills, street washing and other non-essential uses of water.

Enforcement: None

Level 3: Water Alert

Trigger: Water consumption meets or exceeds available supply or system capacity, or useable water storage has been reduced 50 percent, or there are widespread pressure problems.

Action:

  1. The M.U.D. Director of Communications will issue a press release to notify the public that the voluntary requirements of the Level 1 or Level 2 water alerts have become mandatory.
  2. M.U.D. will stop hydrant flushing and main filling, comply with designated restrictions, including shut down of decorative fountains at the Florence Plant and the Headquarters Building.
  3. All customers will be required to adhere to watering restrictions.
  4. All customers will be required to discontinue hosing down driveways, shut off decorative fountains, discontinue filling swimming pools, and other actions deemed appropriate by M.U.D.
  5. The City of Omaha and other municipalities served by M.U.D. will be required to comply with watering restrictions, stop sewer flushing, lake filling, fire fighting drills, street washing and other non-essential uses of water.

Enforcement: Customers who do not comply with the watering restrictions will be subject to having their water shut off until mandatory restrictions are lifted. The current turn-on fee will be charged to restore service.

Exceptions: Circumstances sometimes dictate that customers must have water on designated non-watering days. Exceptions may be made for new sod less than three weeks old and other circumstances deemed appropriate by M.U.D.

Level 4: Water Emergency

Trigger: Water use exceeds production or distribution capacity due to emergency situations.

Action:

  1. The M.U.D. Director of Communications will issue a press release to notify the public a Water Emergency is in effect.
  2. All non-sanitary, non-essential use of water must be discontinued.

Enforcement: Customers who do not comply with the watering restrictions will be subject to having their water shut off until the water emergency is lifted. The current turn-on fee will be charged to restore service.

Level 5: Water Emergency -- Water Quality

Trigger: Water quality for human consumption cannot be assured due to a contamination or suspected contamination.

Action:

  1. The M.U.D. Director of Communications will issue a press release to notify the public that the water cannot be consumed safely unless it is boiled or cannot be consumed safely at all. This will include water used in food preparation.
  2. M.U.D., in cooperation with the State of Nebraska Health and Human Services Department, will take action to make the water safe for consumption and conduct tests to assure it is safe.
  3. M.U.D. will issue a press release to inform customers the water is now safe for consumption.

Enforcement: None.