Water FAQs

Appearance & Smell

What do I do when my water smells like rotten eggs?

Bacteria growing in your sink drain or hot water heater may cause odor. Naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide in your water supply may also cause this odor. To evaluate the cause, put a small amount of water in a narrow glass, step away from the sink, swirl the water around inside the glass, and smell it. If the water has no odor, the likely problem is bacteria in the sink drain. If the water does have an odor, it could be from your hot water heater. There is an element in your hot water heater designed to protect it from corrosion. Sometimes the element causes sulfide smell as it deteriorates over time. A licensed plumber may be able to evaluate this problem. If you rule out the drain and the water heater, and the odor is definitely coming from the tap water, call KPUD Customer Service at 360-779-7656.

What do I do when my water smells like chlorine?

The chlorine odor of tap water can be traced to the chlorine "residual," a low level of chlorine maintained in water to guard against bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which may be in water as it flows from the source to points of use. In the US, even treatment plants that use non-chlorine disinfection technologies are required to add chlorine to the water before it flows into the distribution system. The chlorine residual acts like a "body guard" for water in transit. As long as there is a residual level of chlorine, the consumer is reasonably protected from harmful microorganisms.

To eliminate chlorine, add lemon juice or allow an open container of water to sit for several hours.

My Water

How do we hook up to your system?

Call the District office at (360) 779-7656 and we can answer specific questions you may have hooking up to our water system. We will also inspect the disconnection of your existing water service if you are switching from a well to our system.

How exactly do you measure my water use?

We measure your water use with a meter located near your property by the street. Our technicians regularly read the meter and you are billed accordingly. If you have a question about your water use, please contact us.

How can I find my meter?

Meters are generally situated on your property corner near a road on what is called a utility easement to the property. Look for a rectangular lid to the meter box which is flush to the ground.

Cross Connection

What is a Cross Connection?

A cross connection is any physical or potential arrangement whereby the KPUD’s water system is or may be connected, directly or indirectly, with any other water supply system, sewer, drain, conduit, pool, storage reservoir, plumbing fixture, or other device which contains, or may contain, contaminated water, sewage, or other waste or liquid of unknown quality which may be capable of having the potential to contaminate the District’s water supply as the result of backflow or backsiphonage. By-pass arrangements, jumper connections, removable sections, swivel or changeable devices, and other temporary or permanent devices through which, or because of which, a backflow or back-siphonage may occur, are considered to be cross-connections.

Why am I required to test my backflow prevention assembly annually?

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986, and regulations of most states, state that the water purveyor has the primary responsibility of preventing water from unapproved sources, or any other substances, from entering the public potable water system. The health agency has the overall responsibility for preventing water from unapproved sources to enter either the potable water system within the water consumer’s premises or the public water supply directly. Kitsap Public Utility District operates and maintains a cross connection control program, in accordance with the Department of Health requirements per Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-290-490 which states,

"Purveyors have the responsibility to protect the public water systems from contamination due to cross connection. Cross connections which can be eliminated shall be eliminated. The Purveyors shall work cooperatively with the local authorities to eliminate or control potential cross connections."

In accordance with WAC 246-290-490, Kitsap PUD requires all backflow prevention assemblies will be tested upon installation, repair, or relocation and annually by a certified Backflow Assembly Tester (BAT). All tests must be completed annually to avoid potential termination of service.

What is backflow prevention assembly?

A backflow prevention assembly is a certified assembly that prevents the undesirable reversal of flow of water or other substances through a cross-connection into the District’s water system, or consumer’s potable water system.

Rates

Why do water rates seem less expensive in other locations?

Water rates vary considerably throughout Western Washington.

Monthly costs for a family that uses 1000 cubic feet of water can range from $10 to $50. In general, the larger the system the cheaper it can supply water. Other factors such as the cost of the source of water, cost associated with paying for or upgrading water system facilities, water treatment costs, etc., cause variations in water rates. A water system may keep rates down by not conducting maintenance, not upgrading systems to make them more reliable, or not setting aside funds to replace outdated or aging facilities. That would put such a system in a "pay me now or pay me later" situation. A system that has a large number of industrial or commercial customers can usually charge their residential customers lower rates. Some municipalities use other sources of money to subsidize water rates while others divert money from water rates to other needs.

Many of the systems taken over by Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) were in very poor condition. High maintenance and repair expenses increase costs. Most KPUD systems are small and some distance apart; factors which also increase costs of operation and water rates.

What state and federal regulation changes have caused water costs to increase?

The primary regulation that is causing costs to increase is the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

The State and local governments have enacted and are continuing to propose increases in fees, penalties, and operational requirements, which add to the cost of service. Examples include:

  • Expansion of the utility tax
  • Permit processing construction review fee increases
  • Water system operating permits and plan review fee increases
  • Expanded water system operator certification and qualification requirements
  • Conditions, requirements, or necessary improvements to ensure safety of water supplies
  • Conservation Fees

The State Department of Ecology's (DOE) review process for new water right applications is a very lengthy and exhaustive process. Simple requests can take years of political and legal capital before action is taken. The majority of recent DOE decisions have been based on water right applications where health and safety were an issue. The inability of water systems to obtain water rights has resulted in resorting to more expensive alternatives (e.g., installing expensive treatment systems on old sources or using the cost reimbursement provision for priority water right processing).

What is the Safe Drinking Water Act and why is it causing water costs to go up?

The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress in response to serious contamination found in drinking water at many locations around the country. Congress, in 1986 and 1997, amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to mandate establishment of new regulations for safe drinking water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is required to develop an extensive series of rules, which must be carried out by the States and organizations, which supply water to the public. Most of the new regulations involve testing water supplies for various potential contaminants and specification for treatment or other action if limits are exceeded. Testing, of course, raises costs to a limited extent, but if required, treatment and other mitigating actions can be very expensive. Should a well have to be abandoned, for example, the cost of drilling a new well can be very costly, and obtaining new water rights from the State can take many years or involve a very expensive cost reimbursement process.

Does a rate increase mean that KPUD is going to conduct an extensive upgrade to our system?

There are a number of reasons for rate increases and many are in response to rising costs. While a rate increase helps address general maintenance and repairs in water systems, not all system improvements and upgrades can be completed with rate increases.  System improvements and upgrades are scheduled by priority with consideration of need and available resources.

How much will water rates have to go up in the near future?

Rate increases in the next several years will be determined primarily by increased costs driven by factors such as new regulations, inflation (increasing cost of materials and labor) and adjustments in money set aside for system facilities refurbishment or replacement. The amount of additional expenses caused by new and more rigorous water quality rules will depend on the results of sampling. If extensive treatment is not required and drilling replacement wells is avoided, increases can be minimized. As federal regulations for water quality increase, the cost of service can be expected to follow the same trend.

The District is involved with all sorts of things such as conservation, monitoring, and ground water planning all around the County. Are we (the Kitsap PUD water system customers) paying for those sorts of things through our water bill?

Activities of the type mentioned are not funded by customer rates. The District has several countywide responsibilities that are funded through taxes and grants. These activities include:

  • Water conservation
  • Water resource education
  • Computer mapping water-related information
  • Countywide collection of rainfall and surface, and groundwater resource data
  • Water resource development and study
  • Test well drilling program
  • Water related legislation liaison
  • Watershed Planning
Why should “meter rates” go up when the meters are already paid for?

"Meter rates" are more properly called "Basic Service Charge." They are not just associated with meters, but are designed to fund the fixed expenses of operating a water system. The Basic Service Charge covers the cost of billing, maintaining and operating water system facilities, other facilities related costs, operating water quality monitoring and treatment if necessary, as well as improvements. The Commodity Charge is based on variable costs such as electric power and treatment chemicals.

What is the district doing to keep rates low?
  • Combining systems to achieve economies of scale
  • Re-examining procedures to improve efficiencies without compromising quality
  • Searching for lower cost suppliers
  • Implementing cost saving technologies
  • Promoting education and conservation measures to limit the need for new expensive source development

Regulations and Quality

How about home treatment devices I’ve seen advertised? Should I get one to offer additional protection for my family?

Before you consider investing in a home treatment or filtration system for your home, do your homework. How specifically are you trying to improve your water quality, and what do you hope to achieve through this treatment? Contaminant levels are monitored regularly by the water utility and are provided for your information in the Consumer Confidence Report, which is provided annually to all customers. If this report does not address your concerns, please contact KPUD's Operations for the latest monitoring results.

The term "contaminant" refers to everything from naturally occurring minerals, which your body needs, to synthetic organic compounds, some of which may cause health problems. The mere presence of a contaminant does not pose a health threat, and in fact, the removal of a "contaminant", such as calcium, may be detrimental to your health. While treatment systems can remove "contaminants" from your water, there is no one system that will remove all contaminants. If, after a thorough evaluation of the water chemistry, you decide treatment or filtration is warranted for your home, be sure to review the systems maintenance manual thoroughly and adhere to all recommended maintenance procedures. Without proper maintenance, regular replacement of filters or treatment media, etc., your treatment system can cause excessive buildup and release of collected contaminants into your drinking water.

Finally, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is aimed at ensuring that individual treatment devices are not necessary for individuals who receive their water from public water systems. In most cases, water is treated at the source by the utility to maintain contaminants within allowable levels. Usually this treatment can be done more effectively and economically by the utility. Still, you may have specific health or aesthetic concerns that dictate your need for a treatment system. The ultimate decision is yours.

Should we be drinking bottled water?

Just because water comes from a bottle doesn't guarantee it to be of high quality.

Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) water systems are routinely tested and monitored. Tests show that the water is safe and that there is no need to drink bottled water. The testing requirements for bottled water are less stringent than those imposed on public water systems.

How do you keep contaminants from getting in the water in the first place?

We work with the County Ground Water Guardian Program to help protect ground water sources. We work with local zoning authorities to restrict activities that might have a negative health effect, to prevent them from being located near sources of water.

We take precautions in construction of facilities to keep out contaminants and disinfect the facilities prior to use.

We work with industry and government agencies to ensure that both comply with environmental requirements concerning pollutant discharges.

What are you doing to protect us from chemical contamination?

We are carefully fulfilling the requirements of the State Department of Health Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP). The goal of the WHPP is to prevent contamination of our public drinking water supplies. In Washington, the State Department of Health (DOH) is the lead agency for developing and administering the WHPP. All group A public water systems (those that serve more than 25 persons or 15 connections) are affected by the WHPP. Key components of any wellhead protection program include:

  • Mapping of wellhead protection areas (WHPAs) – WHPAs identify the geographic area that directly contributes water in the short term to the drinking water supply
  • Inventory of potential sources of ground water contamination within wellhead protection areas
  • Development of management strategies to eliminate or minimize the possibility that these potential contaminant sources may become actual sources of ground water contamination
What kind of contaminants or chemicals are in my water?

Water quality reports, referred to as Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) can be found on the Water Quality section of our website. CCRs provide information about the frequency and type of water quality testing as well as the test results.

KPUD drinking water meets or exceeds all water quality standards as set forth in the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act. The Washington State Department of Health considers drinking water that meets these water quality standards safe for human consumption.

What State drinking water regulations must the District comply with and what water quality parameters are being tested for?

Volatile organic chemicals (VOC)-State regulations set Maximum Contamination Levels (MCLs) for 8 chemicals and monitoring requirements for 51 additional contaminants for systems serving less than 3,300 people.

Total Coliform- Public water systems are required to sample for total coliform on a monthly basis. Sampling must be conducted in accordance with a written plan. The number of samples required per month depends on the number of persons served. Systems that serve 25 to 1000 persons, for example, must take 1 sample per month. When a Total Coliform sample is positive, additional testing of the sample must be conducted for fecal coliform and E. coli and repeat samples must be taken. If the repeat sampling and testing indicates fecal coliform or E. coli is present, the public must be notified.

Lead and Copper- Rules for minimizing lead and copper in drinking water have been developed. The regulations include corrosion control treatment, sampling for lead and copper levels in drinking water, water treatment if required, and public education.

Synthetic organic and inorganic chemicals (SOC and IOC)-This rule sets MCLs for 33 contaminants and require monitoring for 110 additional contaminants.

Additional rules are expected to be implemented in the future that will address additional volatile organic and synthetic organic chemicals, radionuclides, radon, disinfectants, arsenic, and many other contaminants.

The expense of conducting the comprehensive testing program mandated by the SDWA will drive up water system costs. The potential for additional expenses which could result if sampling uncovers problems with water systems may far exceed the cost of sampling. For example expensive water treatment could be necessary or some water sources may have to be abandoned and new sources developed (e.g., drill a new well at some distance from the old one and lay pipe to move water to the system).