Water, Sewer & Stormwater

City of Aiken Water Frequently Asked Questions

Where does my water come from?

The City of Aiken currently operates and maintains 3 different types of systems. Shaws Creek Water Treatment Plant is our primary source for surface water, here we collect water from Shaws Creek for treatment and distribution throughout the system. We also have 4 Well Systems that provide a large quantity of the demands of the distribution system. Lastly, is our oldest, a Spring Fed Collection System that also aids in meeting the needs of our customers. This drinking water is then delivered through a series of interconnected, underground water lines throughout the area.

Does the City of Aiken Fluoridate the Water?
Yes. The decision to add Fluoride to our drinking water was voted on by the citizens of Aiken and is maintained within the parameters set forth by S.C. DHEC and U.S. EPA guidelines.
Why is Fluoride added to my water?
Fluoride is added to the water to help prevent tooth decay and is closely monitored to stay in accordance with State and Federal recommended levels.
Why does my water taste or smell like chlorine?

We are required by law to provide disinfectant (chlorine) residuals to the tap of each customer to protect them from harmful bacteria.
There are certain times of the year that this taste / smell may be more noticeable and could be caused by something as simple as increased production / usage. We do our best to maintain a consistent residual throughout the system at all times. If you find these characteristics objectionable, you can fill a pitcher with water and place it into your refrigerator and the chlorine will dissipate to a less noticeable level. There are also many Point-of-Use devices readily available that contain activated carbon which will improve the taste and smell of your water. PLEASE follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on replacing these cartridges as they can pose health risks if not maintained properly.

Why is my drinking water milky, cloudy, or white?

This is usually caused by tiny air bubbles in your water, similar to those in carbonated drinks. This happens more often during the winter months as air gets mixed into the water and then warms as it is dormant in household plumbing or water heaters. Cold water can hold more air than warm water, so as the warmed water is released from you’re your faucet into a glass, the air will rise to the top as the water begins to clear. This can also be a result of repairs made in the general area that you reside. If the air persists or seems excessive, please feel free to contact the City of Aiken Water Treatment Department at 803-642-7629 and someone will gladly assist you ASAP. Air bubbles in water pose no known health risks.

My water is cloudy and/or has an unpleasant taste. Who should I contact?

Contact the City of Aiken Water Treatment Department at 803-642-7629 to report your concerns about the quality of your water.
Hydrant flushing may be required due to the construction or maintenance of water mains within the system.

Why is my water discolored (yellow, red, brown)?

This is typically due to a change in the direction of flows in the system that stirs up iron and manganese-containing sediments. The paving of roadways can also have a distinguishable adverse effect by disrupting the areas containing the water mains. Their presence in water usually appears much more noticeable than the actual levels contained. The presence of these minerals can cause staining in white or light colored laundry. If this happens, DO NOT rewash the items with bleach as this will “set” the color into the fabric. Instead, rewash the items in clear water, or with a detergent containing rust removal properties that can be purchased at most retailers.
Discolored water can also result in the home due to dissimilar metals being connected (such as copper and galvanized pipes); or cracked glass liners in water heater tanks. These problems are generally characterized by a “spurt” of color when the water is first turned on or will be limited to only the hot water. If you are experiencing an ongoing issue and/or the problem exists outside of your home (neighboring areas), please contact the City of Aiken Water Treatment Department at 803-642-7629.

Why is there a pink, brown or black residue in areas that are in contact with water?
These residues may occur in toilets, showers, pet bowls, coffee reservoirs, cold air humidifiers, bath toys, or any moist surfaces that are typically warm and not cleaned well or regularly. These are generally the result of the presence of growth-molds, fungus, bacteria or algae that originated in the surface in question or are air born. These microbes can be easily eliminated and controlled by cleaning regularly with chlorine or some other type of disinfectant solution.
Why does my water smell and taste like mud or mold?
The most common cause is the bacteria growing in your drain. Hair, food particles, soap, and discharge from dental cleaning leave organic matter that can accumulate over time and develop bacteria. As they continue to grow and multiply, they develop gases that gather in the drain, remaining there until the water enters the drain and forces the gases out into the air. The natural assumption is that this odor is coming from the water as it is only noticeable when the water is turned on. This can easily be remedied by simply cleaning and disinfecting the drain. Similar taste and odor issues can be a result of “stale” water in low flow areas of the distribution system or in-house plumbing that has been dormant for extended periods of time. This can be remedied by flowing water for a few minutes or by contacting the City of Aiken at 803-642-7629 to have the water flushed in your area.
Why am I seeing white or black particles in my water?

This is generally a result of the degradation of dip tubes in water heaters (white), faucet gaskets, steel braided water supply lines, or pipe coatings. Basic trouble shooting should help isolate and determine whether the problem only exists in certain faucets and hot or cold supply lines.

My family has been sick; is my water the cause?
With increasing public awareness on the issues of health and infectious diseases, the City of Aiken is frequently questioned as to whether the water could be the cause. This is very unlikely as the water is treated under high quality standards and maintaining adequate disinfectant residuals throughout the distribution system. The City of Aiken does take these concerns quite seriously and will gladly perform on-site testing for bacteria and chlorine residuals if the customer so desires. Feel free to call us at 803-642-7629 to schedule an in-home analysis.
Is my water safe? Do I need to boil it?
While it is our intention to deliver the highest quality water that has been clarified and disinfected; it is not sterile. Those with severely compromised immunity deficiencies, such as Cancer treatment patients receiving chemotherapy, advanced AIDS, and organ transplant recipients may want to take extra precautionary measures in the water they consume. You can completely eliminate any possibility of microbial exposure by bringing the water to a rolling boil for one minute, allow to cool, and store in a clean refrigerated condition. Please seek the advice of your physician if you have any concerns. In the event of an interruption in service, such as a main break, a Boil Water Advisory may be issued. When service is interrupted and mains become depressurized, there is an increased risk of foreign material being siphoned into the water distribution system through cross-connections or seepage. As a result, we are required to issue a Boiled Water Notice (this is typically done by door hangers in the affected areas and social media sources) until the water can be sampled and a bacteriological analysis can be conducted to insure that the water has not been contaminated. This usually takes about 24 hours after service has been restored and repeals have been issued. This is one of the major deciding factors in maintaining a good disinfectant residual throughout the distribution system, and records have consistently shown that our water has not been contaminated.
I have low water pressure in my house, what should I do?
If your water has become discolored, lost pressure or flow in one particular faucet, you can try removing the aerator and rinsing it to remove any debris. If the problem persists, you may need to contact a plumbing professional to check for a leak in your home.
If the issue is throughout the whole house, check the City of Aiken’s social media pages to see if we are experiencing a break in your area.
What is the water pressure in our system?
The City of Aiken does our very best to maintain a range of about 35 psi (pounds per square inch) to 100+ psi. Unfortunately, due to the topography of the area that we serve, we have little control over that, with the highest areas having lower pressure and the lowest areas having the highest pressure. The system pressures can increase or decrease due to demands on our system and varying other factors such as flushing, and leaks.
What is the hardness of our water?

Let’s first address what hardness of water is. Hardness is the measure of difficulty with which water makes / forms lather and suds; and to the hard mineral deposits left on fixtures. Soft water uses less soap or detergent and may cause clothing or skin to feel softer. The City of Aiken keeps the hardness of our water at about 35 ppm (parts per million) (this can also be expressed as mg/L (milligrams per Liter) to about 42 ppm. This is equivalent to 2 gpg (grains per gallon) to 2.5 gpg. (The formula is ppm / 17.1 = gpg) Making our water soft. This is determined by the measuring of two chemicals, Calcium and Magnesium; there are no adverse health effects from these chemicals. Actually, they are considered to be essential daily nutrients that are beneficial to human health. The U.S. Geological Survey established the following hardness levels in 1962 that we go by:

Soft / 0-60 ppm | 0-3.5 gpg
Moderately Soft / 61 – 120 ppm | 3.5 – 7 gpg
Moderately Hard / 121 – 180 ppm | 7.0 – 10.5 gpg
Very Hard /181+ ppm |10.5+ gpg

Soft water is less likely to leave mineral deposits on pots and pans and scale build-up in water heater tanks. You will also use less household cleaning products and personal hygiene products like shampoo, and you may even get longer life from appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.

Somebody left bottles at my house for a community water test, is that the City of Aiken?
No, this is a private company selling water softening units or some other type of in-home filtration system. We will gladly test your water if you are experiencing a problem, but ONLY at your request.
Do I need a water filter?
Our water is safe to drink, some filters may improve the taste, but are not necessary to make the water safe to drink. For more information, please read the City of Aiken’s annual CCR (Consumer Confidence Report).
How do I avoid water filter fraud?

Our water is unfortunately the target of less than scrupulous businesses promising that their devices can improve the quality and safety of your water. The City of Aiken’s water meets or exceeds all Federal and State standards designed to protect consumers from harmful substances and disease causing bacteria. We urge our customers to be very cautious of unnecessary water filtration systems. When considering, PLEASE, thoroughly research and understand what their product can and cannot do to improve the quality of your water. Some companies may use deceptive measures and sales techniques to mislead you into purchasing one of their systems. These businesses are NOT endorsed by the City of Aiken and you should request that they use a credible laboratory that uses stringent testing techniques certified by the EPA for accuracy. If you are still considering purchasing their product, make certain that it is third-party certified by NSF International and specifically targeted to any minerals or contaminants you are concerned with. PLEASE proceed cautiously if any salesperson or telemarketer suggest ANY of the following:

The water in your area is contaminated.
Some unscrupulous salespeople may suggest that your water contains lead or pesticides. If you have ANY concerns that your water is dangerous, first call the EPA’s safe drinking water hotline at 1 800-426-4791.

Their filtration system is certified by the US government.
The NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) is the provider of certification of water filtration systems.

An offer for an in-home test to check the safety of your water.
In-home water tests can be manipulated to create the impression that you need a filtration system to protect the health of you and your family.

That their system requires no maintenance.
ALL water filtration devices require some sort of maintenance, even if it is as simple as occasionally replacing a filter cartridge.
Again, PLEASE follow manufacturer’s recommendation on filter maintenance. Not doing so can result in serious health risks.

Their filter removes ALL known contaminants.
No water purification system can remove all contaminants known to man.

You have won a prize despite not having entered any contests.
Some sellers may try to entice you with the promise of a free gift or prize, but you are first required to purchase one of their systems to be eligible to redeem. After inquiring about your prize, you may discover that the cost of the filtration system far outweighs the value of the prize you have “won”.

What do I do if I have been the victim of a water filter scam?

If you feel you have been victim of a water filter scam, contact the following:

BBB (Better Business Bureau). File complaints online with a BBB office located near the company’s headquarters.

FTC (Federal Trade Commission). You can call the FTC’s Consumer Help line at 1-877-382-4357 or you can write to them  at Correspondence Branch Federal Trade Commission Washington, DC 20580