The Salt Lake County Health Department Water Quality Bureau helps protect drinking water by:
- Inspecting public water systems
- Collecting and analyzing water samples from public water systems
- Investigating suspected waterborne illnesses and complaints
Regulation of public water systems in Utah is the responsibility the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, which ensures that our state's water systems meet the guidelines contained in the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Act, the federal law that protects public drinking water supplies.
Even when drinking water meets state and federal water quality standards, it can, at times, have a strange taste or smell or appear discolored. This does not necessarily present a health concern. Taste and smell problems are often caused by plumbing within a home, especially in homes with older plumbing.
If you are concerned about the taste, smell, or appearance of your drinking water, contact your specific water system (see the next tab, above, for more information).
Your Public Water
Your public water system depends on where you live in Salt Lake County.
Your water system is the water company that provides your culinary (tap) water; it's where you pay your water bill and may be called an “improvement district,” “water conservancy district,” or may be part of your city’s public utility department.
Public water systems must test their water on a regular basis; the frequency of testing depends on the size of the system—water companies with more customers must test more frequently than smaller systems with fewer customers—but ranges from daily to a few times per month.
Water testing includes contaminant testing required by the EPA. Your water system is required to send their users a Consumer Confidence Report annually that lists the results of their testing; many water systems also post these reports on their web sites.
There are several public water systems operating in Salt Lake County. Be aware that water system boundaries do not necessarily align with municipal boundaries (for example, your water system may be Salt Lake City Public Utilities even if you do not live in Salt Lake City proper).
If you don't know which water system serves your home, you can look up your public water system at the Utah Division of Drinking Water by entering your street address and ZIP code or city. The search results will include contact information for your water system.
All water naturally contains some fluoride. Usually, that fluoride level is not high enough to have positive health effects.
Salt Lake County began community water fluoridation in 2003, after a public vote in 2000.
Salt Lake County Health Regulation #33 requires most public water systems in the county to supplement their community drinking water with the right amount of fluoride so their system reaches the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's optimum level to have positive health effects (0.7mg/L per the CDC).
Salt Lake County Health Department requires community water systems to regularly monitor and sample fluoride levels to ensure each system is delivering the optimal level of fluoride for positive health benefits.
Community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all public health, medical, and dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, US Public Health Service, and World Health Organization.
The safety and effectiveness of fluoride at levels used in community water fluoridation have been thoroughly reviewed by multinational scientific and public health organizations (U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the World Health Organization) using evidence-based reviews and expert panels. These panels include scientists with expertise in various health and scientific disciplines, including medicine, biophysics, chemistry, toxicological pathology, oral health, and epidemiology.
Fluoride benefits children and adults throughout their lives:
- For children younger than 8, fluoride helps strengthen the adult (permanent) teeth that are developing under the gums.
- For adults, drinking water with fluoride supports tooth enamel, keeping teeth strong and healthy. The health benefits of fluoride include having:
- Fewer cavities.
- Less severe cavities.
- Less need for fillings and removing teeth.
- Less pain and suffering because of tooth decay.
Fluoride was first added to a public water system in 1945 (Grand Rapids, MI) and has been widespread across the United States since the 1960s.
Private wells and springs approved as a source of drinking water must meet several testing and design requirements, including quantity, pressure, and quality standards.
Access to an approved drinking water source, either through a public water system or an approved private well or spring, is a requirement for occupying a home in Salt Lake County.
Complete requirements for these individual water systems are listed in Salt Lake County’s Health Regulations but, in summary, an approved system must have:
- Necessary legal water rights.
- Physical ability to supply at least 400 gallons per day per household, 365 days per year (800 gallons if it will also supply landscape water).
- Physical ability to provide at least 20 pounds per square inch of pressure at all times.
- Contaminant levels below the maximums listed in our health regulation (the system may be subject to further sampling and analysis based on specific circumstances).
Wells must have been drilled according to all Utah Division of Water Rights requirements and must meet depth, location, protection zone, and other parameters.
Springs must meet location, collection device, junction box, flow measurement, and other requirements.
If you have questions, contact us at 385-468-3862.
Many consumers are surprised to learn that bottled water may be less safe than their tap water.
The EPA and Utah Division of Drinking Water set standards that all public drinking water providers throughout Salt Lake County must meet. Bottled water providers are not required to meet these same water quality standards.
Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, but other bottled water is not treated at all. If you choose to purchase bottled water, read the label to understand exactly what you are buying, and remember that individually bottled water contributes significantly to our waste stream.
Tap water in Salt Lake County is regularly tested for safety and is the environmentally friendly choice.