Water Safety

Information about the M.U.D. Water Alert Emergency Plan, and other water-safety related resources and FAQs.

Community Water Management Plan

Climate, environmental, or operational events may drive the need to alert the community and modify water usage.

The responsibility for calling for these alerts will be with the M.U.D. President and will be based on consultations with the Senior Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, and with the Vice President, Water Operations, and other subject matter experts as appropriate.

Once the decision has been made, it will be the responsibility of the Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, and the Vice President, Customer Experience, along with the Director, Corporate Communications, to make the appropriate notifications to the public.

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 0 Normal Operations (Voluntary Odd-Even Watering)

During normal operations, M.U.D.’s ongoing messaging will ask customers to follow voluntary odd-even outdoor watering practices. Customers will be reminded to follow the standard odd-even lawn watering based on customers’ address – odd addresses should water Monday, Wednesday and Friday; even addresses should water Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or Sunday, and water no more often than every other day.

Level 1 Water Alert (Voluntary Alternate Dat Watering)

Trigger:

Water consumption is forecasted to reach 85% of available production or distribution capacity, or any of the water storage reservoirs cannot be refilled from day to day, or low pressure jeopardizes firefighting or causes numerous customer complaints.

Voluntary reductions may also be warranted if source water availability is constrained, or conditions exist that impact regional water needs.

Action:

  • The M.U.D. Director, Corporate Communications, will issue a press release notifying the public that we are issuing the Level 1 Water alert. The press release will include a basic list of water conservation tips.
  • M.U.D. will comply with alternate day lawn watering restrictions at all facilities.
  • M.U.D. will review pipeline construction priorities and limit flushing for lower priority projects if needed.
  • M.U.D. will notify local news and weather stations to coordinate proper water conservation messaging to the community.
  • M.U.D. will ask the City of Omaha and other municipalities including wholesale water customers served by M.U.D. to voluntarily comply with alternate day watering restrictions, cease hydrant parties, curtail sewer flushing, lake filling, firefighting drills, street washing and other non-essential uses of water. Note: This does not include splash pad parks.
  • All customers will be asked to voluntarily adhere to:
    • Alternate day watering. Customers will be reminded to follow the standard odd-even lawn watering based on customers’ address – odd addresses should water Monday, Wednesday and Friday; even addresses should water Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or Sunday, and water no more often than every other day.
    • All customers will be asked to voluntarily discontinue hosing down driveways, shut off decorative fountains, discontinue filling swimming pools.
    • Instead of hosing down to clean driveways and other paved surfaces use a broom.
    • Wash car or other vehicles less frequently and only as necessary.
  • Customers will be told what to expect if a Level 2 Watch is

 

Potential Penalties:

There will be no enforcement at this level.

Level 2 Water Watch (Voluntary No Watering Days)

Purpose:

Specified no-watering days will allow M.U.D. to fill the water system reservoirs.

Trigger:

Water consumption is forecasted to reach 90% of available production or distribution capacity, or any of the water storage reservoirs cannot be refilled from day to day, or low pressure jeopardizes firefighting or causes numerous customer complaints.

Voluntary reductions may also be warranted if source water availability is constrained, or conditions exist that impact regional water needs.

Action:

  • The M.U.D. Director, Corporate Communications, will issue a press release notifying the public that we are issuing the Level 2 Water Watch. The water conservation measures from Level 1 Water Alert, except for alternate watering days, will remain in effect and be in addition to those found in this Watch/Advisory. The press release will include a basic list of water conservation tips.
  • U.D. will comply with no lawn watering days as specified at all facilities.
  • U.D. will ask the City of Omaha and other municipalities including wholesale water customers served by M.U.D. to voluntarily comply with no-watering day restrictions. Note: This does not include splash pad parks.
  • All customers will be asked to voluntarily adhere to:
    • No lawn watering or other outdoor water uses on specified days. The days will be determined by M.U.D. at the time the Watch/Advisory is issued.  U.D. will allow for one full day after the press release for notification.
  • Customers will be told what to expect if a Level 3 Warning is issued.

Potential Penalties:

There will be no enforcement at this level.

Level 3 Water Warning (Mandatory)

Trigger:

Water Consumption is forecasted to meet or exceed 95% of the available production or distribution capacity or there are widespread pressure problems.

Mandatory reductions may also be warranted if source water availability is constrained, or conditions exist that impact regional water needs.

Action:

  • The M.U.D. Director, Corporate Communications, will issue a press release notifying the public that the voluntary requirements of the Level 1 water Alert and Level 2 Water Watch have now become mandatory.
  • M.U.D. will stop hydrant flushing for new pipeline projects.
  • M.U.D. will require the City of Omaha and other municipalities including wholesale water customers served by M.U.D. to comply with all watering restrictions, stop sewer flushing, lake filling firefighting drills, street washing, and other non-essential uses of water.
  • All customers will be asked to adhere to:
    • No lawn watering or other outdoor water uses per designated restrictions.

All customers will be required to adhere to watering restrictions.

 

Potential Penalties:

Customers who do not comply with the watering restrictions will be subject to having their water shut off until mandatory restrictions are lifted. All applicable fees will be charged to restore service.

Exceptions:

Exceptions may be made in the sole discretion of M.U.D.  All permitted exceptions will be in writing.

Level 4 Water Quantity Emergency

Trigger:

Water consumption exceeds production or distribution capacity due to emergency situations.

Mandatory reductions may also be warranted if source water availability is constrained, or conditions exist that impact regional water needs.

Action:

  • The M.U.D. Director, Corporate Communications, will issue a press release notifying the public that a Level 4 Water Quantity Emergency is in effect.
  • All non-sanitary, non-essential use of water must be discontinued immediately.

Potential Penalties:

Customers who do not comply with the watering restrictions will be subject to having their water shut off until the Water Quantity Emergency is lifted. All applicable fees will be charged to restore service.

Level 5 Water Quality Emergency

Trigger:

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

Action:

  • The M.U.D. Director, Corporate Communications, will issue a press release notifying 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
  • M.U.D., in cooperation with the State of Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, will take action to make the water safe for consumption and conduct tests to assure it is safe.
  • M.U.D. will issue a press release informing customers the water is now safe for consumption.

 

Potential Penalties:

None.

Water Safety FAQs

    Safety

  • Can I use bottled water in my fish tank?

    Bottled water may have chloramines in it because some bottlers use tap water for their product. Check the label.

  • Which chemicals in the water should concern pond owners?

    According to Todd Kallhoff, owner of The Pond Guy, all ponds need a biological filter to remove the ammonia via the nitrogen cycle. De-chlorinators are not necessary unless pond owners increase their pond’s water capacity by more than 5 percent at one time.

    Tests should ensure the pH, or acidity and alkalinity levels are in the neutral range of 5.6 to 7.4.

  • Is there any free ammonia in the water that is corrosive to copper pipe?

    Free ammonia, if any, will not be a significant factor in copper pipe corrosion.

  • Chloramine

  • Do chloramines affect my swimming pool?

    No. You still will need a free chlorine residual to retard algae and bacteria growths. Contact your local pool supply stores for specific information.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Will the water filter I use to remove chlorine from my water at home also remove chloramine?

    Any activated carbon water filter removes chloramine just as it removes chlorine. However, consult your manufacturer for specific information.

  • Is chloramine safe?

    Yes. Chloramines have been used safely in the U.S. and Canada for many years. EPA recommends chloramines as a disinfectant. If not for disinfectants, disease-causing organisms such as typhoid and cholera could be carried in your drinking water.

    CHLORAMINATED WATER IS SAFE FOR EVERYONE TO DRINK, including:

    • Pregnant women
    • Children and infants
    • People on kidney dialysis
    • People on low-sodium diets
    • People with diabetes
    • Warm-blooded pets (dogs, cats, birds, pigs, etc.)

    Chloraminated water is safe for all warm-blooded* animals, including humans, to drink because the digestive process neutralizes the chloramine before it reaches the bloodstream. In fact, consumers in cities with chloraminated water report the water tastes better because it has less of a chlorine odor or taste. Chloraminated water also is safe for bathing, cooking and all uses we have for water every day.

    *Chloraminated water is NOT safe for cold-blooded animals

  • What is the amount of chloramine in the water?

    It ranges from two to three milligrams per liter.

  • Does chloramine present any danger to people who are sensitive to chemicals?

    The amount of chloramine in the water is extremely small. If you are concerned that even a low concentration may cause problems for you, check with your physician.

  • Why is chloramine a problem for kidney dialysis patients?

    In the dialysis process, water comes in contact with the blood across a permeable membrane. Chloramine in dialysis water is toxic, just as chlorine in dialysis is toxic.

  • What precautions for chloramine should kidney dialysis patients take?

    Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from the water used in kidney dialysis machines. There are two ways to remove these disinfectants: Adding ascorbic acid or using a granular activated carbon treatment.

    Medical centers that perform dialysis are responsible for treating the water that enters dialysis machines. We notified all medical facilities to treat the water to remove chloramine, just as they do for chlorine.

    Home dialysis service companies usually make the modifications needed, however you should check with your equipment supplier and/or physician. Chloraminated water is safe for kidney dialysis patients to drink.

    If you have any questions, please consult your physician.

  • Is chloramine harmful to fish?

    Chloramine is toxic to cold-blooded animals, such as fish, because it passes through the gills of the fish or the skin of the reptile, and directly enters the bloodstream.

    Fish tank and pond owners, including zoos, hobbyists, restaurants, fish markets, grocery stores with lobster tanks and bait shops with fish containers, must have appropriate filtration equipment or use water treatment products to neutralize chloramine.

    Chloraminated water should be treated before it is added to your tank, aquarium, pond or goldfish bowl. Carbon filters on your tank may not remove chloramine from the tap water that is added directly to your tank.

    Chloramine will not dissipate from boiling or holding water in open, standing containers. Chemical additives for dechloraminating water you add to your tank or pond (makeup water) are available at pet/fish supply stores.

    Tap water used with artificial sea salts for makeup water in salt water fish tanks must be dechloraminated.

    Carbon filters should be operated at a slow rate for best chloramine removal. They should be monitored carefully to determine when the carbon media has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be changed. Manufacturers often indicate the maximum number of gallons that can be filtered before renewal of the filters is required. Check with the supplier for proper operation. Testing the residual from the filter will help determine the best filtration rate.

    Runoff from lawns or gardens should not be allowed to enter a pond because the possible presence of chloramines, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and/or any other material that may contaminate the pond.

  • Does chloramine affect your swimming pool?

    No. You still will need a free chlorine residual to retard algae and bacteria growths. Contact your local pool supply stores for specific information.

  • Does chloramine change the pH of water?

    No. It continues to be about 9.

  • Does chloramine provide better protection in domestic hot water systems from Legionella?

    We know of no evidence that chloramine offers more protection against Legionella. Chlorine is driven off during the heating of hot water whereas chloramine does not.  Chlloramine residual does not dissipate as readily as free chlorine and stays in the water longer.

  • If chloramine kills goldfish in a fish bowl, does it kill the fish in the rivers once the water gets into the sewer systems?

    Water enters sanitary sewers that flow to the sewage treatment plants. Chloramine is neutralized or “used up” before it gets to the sewage treatment plants by a combination of time and the amount of bacteria (organic matter) in the sewage. Sewage plants add chlorine in their treatment process and are limited in the amount of chlorine that can be discharged into streams.

  • How about using chloraminated water on ornamental plants, vegetables, fruit or nut trees? Is beneficial bacteria harmed?

    The small amount of chloramine that is in the water should have no effect on plants of any type. Beneficial bacteria generally will be protected by the soil in which they live. Chloramine is removed by the high chlorine demand in the soil.

  • Chromium

  • Why is chromium in the news?

    On December 20, 2010 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report on the presence of hexavalent chromium (Cr-6) in 35 cities throughout the country. The District currently monitors for total chromium, which includes the most commonly found forms of the element, Cr-3 and Cr-6. The EWG reported the drinking water in Omaha contained 1.07 micrograms per liter (parts per billion, ppb). One part per billion corresponds to 1 minute in 2,000 years or 1 penny in $10 million.

  • What is chromium?

    Chromium is a naturally occurring element found in air, rock, soil, groundwater, surface water and a variety of foods. It is an essential element in the human diet. The most stable forms are Cr-3 and Cr-6.

  • What is the Cr-6 level in Omaha’s water?

    The District monitors total chromium in the drinking water on a monthly basis. The tests are performed by the District’s certified laboratory as well as Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services. The levels vary between less than 1 parts per billion (ppb) to 7.1 ppb throughout the year depending on source water.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • What is the difference between an MCL and an MCLG or public health goal?

    A MCLG or PHG is a level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to human health. MCLGs are non-enforceable public health goals. An MCL is the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are enforceable standards that are set as close to the MCLG as feasible, using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration. The EPA has set an MCL for total chromium at 100 ppb.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Is there an MCL for Cr-6?

    The EPA has set the MCL for total chromium at 100 ppb. This includes all forms of chromium (Cr-3 and Cr-6). The state of Nebraska adopted the standard. The regulation does not require differentiation between Cr-3 and Cr-6. The MCL is based on levels that may cause “allergic dermatitis.”

    Research shows Cr-6 may cause an irritation at levels around 25-50 ppb and may have a cancer effect at levels in excess of 10 ppm (parts per million). One part per million is 1,000 parts per billion and corresponds to 1 minute in 2 years or 1 penny in $10 thousand.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Is Cr-6 harmful for me at the levels found in Omaha’s water?

    M.U.D. is confident Omaha’s water is safe to drink at the present levels of chromium in its water. Research demonstrates that Cr-6 is converted to Cr-3 in the stomach due to the low pH of the stomach acids. The conversion occurs at pH <4.5. The normal pH of the stomach is in the range of 1 to 3.5. However, there are certain medications which can increase the stomach pH above these levels.

  • What are other sources of chromium through oral exposure?

    Chromium is a naturally occurring element and an essential nutrient. Dietary supplements, including multi-vitamins and some energy drinks contain chromium levels from 35 micrograms to more than 1,000 micrograms. As it is naturally occurring, one gram of house dust can contain up to 400 micrograms of chromium. Even cookware and eating utensils may contain some trace amounts of chromium.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • What is M.U.D. doing about Cr-6 in the drinking water?

    The EPA is working on regulating Cr-6. They expect to have an MCL for Cr-6 by the end of 2011 or early 2012. The District will take whatever steps are necessary to comply with the regulation.

    The District has initiated the process with the EPA to develop an effective monitoring program. The District also maintains close communication with Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Douglas County Health Department to ensure the safety of the water.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • How can I reduce my exposure to Cr-6 in drinking water?

    The most effective way to reduce Cr-6 in water is through reverse osmosis. Certain ion exchange filters also have been shown to be effective at its removal. Theoretically, activated carbon should remove Cr-6, however this has not been proven.

    (The District does not recommend or endorse any type of point of use device as described above. CAUTION: All point of use devices should be professionally installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serious illness may result if the product is not installed and maintained properly.)

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Lead

  • Is there lead in the water supplied by M.U.D.?

    Our water quality surpasses all federal and state standards. The current standard for lead is 15 parts per billion.

    Many homes may have lead service pipes or copper plumbing with lead soldered joints. When water is corrosive, lead can be dissolved into the water from the pipes. The water supplied by M.U.D. is not corrosive. It actually protects the water from lead in pipes or joints by forming a harmless buildup of minerals inside the pipes.

    For more information, visit our Lead and Drinking Water page.

  • If there is lead in my drinking water, where does it come from?

    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. To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • 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.”

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • What can consumers do to reduce exposure to lead in the water?

    To find out if you have a lead service, you can call Customer Service at 402-554-6666. To reduce the chance of exposure to lead, only use water from the cold tap for cooking and drinking. If the tap has not been used in more than a half hour, flush water through the faucet for 30 seconds to a minute before using it. Also remove and clean the aerator on the faucet on a regular basis.

    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.

    M.U.D. meets all state and federal water quality standards so home water treatment devices are not necessary. Use of a supplemental filter is a personal preference, however it can also be harmful if not properly maintained. In selecting a filter, determine what substance(s) is/are to be removed and look for a filter that has a NSF/UL certification to remove it.

  • Can my water be tested for lead?

    If you are concerned about elevated lead levels in your home’s water, you may want to have your water tested. We will test unknown service lines installed prior to 1940 at no charge. Call M.U.D. Customer Service at 402.554.6666 to request a test.

    Note: Flushing the tap for 30 seconds to a minute before using your tap water will clear the line of any lead that may have leached into the water while the line was idle. Regular removal and cleaning of the aerator on the faucet spout may reduce exposure to lead as well as bacteriological contaminants.

    Additional information is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline, call 800.426.4791, visit their website, or call Nebraska Health & Human Services Division of Public Health, Office of Drinking Water, 402.471.2541.

  • Chlorine

  • How does chlorine kill bacteria?

    Chlorine oxidizes the bacteria, destroying it.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Should I be concerned about the chlorine in the water I use for baths or showers?

    No, for three reasons:

    Chlorine will not be absorbed into the skin and get into your body.

    The amount of chlorine in the water is too low to harm the skin itself. More chlorine is found in swimming pools than in tap water.

    There have not been any reports of danger from breathing the chlorine that gets into the air during a shower.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Is water with chlorine safe to drink?

    Many tests have shown that the amount of chlorine found in treated water is safe to drink, although some people may object to the taste. Chlorine in drinking water does not cause diarrhea in humans or animals.

    To see the latest Water Quality Report, visit the Water tab.

  • Will the water filter I’ve been using to remove chlorine from my water at home also remove chloramine?

    Any activated carbon water filter will remove chloramine just as it removes chlorine. However, consult your manufacturer for specific information.

  • Miscellaneous

  • Are there any special precautions people with cancer or AIDS should take before drinking/using M.U.D. water?

    Immuno-compromised people-such as those with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some older adults and infants-may be particularly at risk from infections. These people should get advice about drinking water from their health care providers. For more information, contact the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline, 800.426.4791 or go to their website, (www.epa.gov/safewater).

  • How is M.U.D. performing sewer lateral inspections?

    M.U.D. is currently using several contractors to visually inspect sewer laterals. One type of contractor inserts a small camera into a home’s sewer lateral and pushes the camera from the home to the city’s mainline sanitary sewer. The camera is typically inserted into the sewer lateral through a basement cleanout, rooftop vent pipe, or floor drain.

  • I hear aluminum is used to treat drinking water. Does it cause Alzheimer’s disease?

    Aluminum-containing chemicals, called alum or aluminum sulfate, are used to treat most surface waters. These chemicals trap dirt and then form large particles in the water that settle out so very little aluminum stays in the water.

    Considerable publicity was given to some studies suggesting that more people were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in areas where drinking water contained small amounts of aluminum. According to most Alzheimer’s disease experts, these reports are not accurate.

    Aluminum is a natural chemical that occurs in many foods, including tea. Even if you live where the level of aluminum in drinking water is much above average, your intake from food would be about 20 times your intake from drinking water.

    Aluminum is not regulated by the EPA because there is no reliable scientific data that shows it’s dangerous.

  • What is Cryptosporidium?

    Cryptosporidium is a protozoan parasite and one-celled animal too small to be seen without a microscope. It’s common in surface waters (lakes and rivers), especially when these waters contain a high amount of sewage or animal waste.

    Cryptosporidium can cause symptoms that include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps or all three. Because many other conditions can produce these same symptoms, a special laboratory test is needed to find out whether Cryptosporidium is the cause.

    The District monitors the raw and treated water at both treatment plants for Cryptosporidium with monthly tests. It has never been found in our treated water.

  • 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.

  • Does lithium in M.U.D. water prevent heart attacks?

    We have no statistical data on this assertion.

  • How do I know if my sewer lateral has a blockage?

    A sewer lateral blockage has different characteristics than a standard drain blockage. A drain blockage will cause one drain to run slowly or not at all while other drains in a house flow freely. A drain blockage could also occur anywhere in a house. A sewer lateral blockage will cause multiple lower level drains to run slow or back up. Please note, this will be most apparent on the lowest level of the home and not on any levels above that.