Water Quality


Water Quality

We provide clean, safe, award-winning drinking water that meets or exceeds all state and federal regulatory requirements. It is continually tested during the treatment process and throughout our water distribution system to ensure quality and safety.

Our lab performs thousands of water analyses per month. A summary of each year's water quality testing is provided in our annual water quality report , also known as the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This report is published each May and posted on this page.

    1. Common Issues
      Changes in water taste, smell, or color may be caused by a variety of factors, including natural changes in our source water, nearby construction activity, fire hydrant testing or flushing, and plumbing problems.

      In rare cases, such as after a large water main break or wide-scale loss of system pressure, we may issue a boil water advisory as a precaution. Learn more about boil water advisories (link to boil water advisory page)

      Discolored water
      Mineral deposits can accumulate inside of some water mains. Most of the time this isn't a problem, but changes in water pressure resulting from construction activity or the use of fire hydrants can cause these deposits to break loose and dissolve in the water, resulting in discoloration.

      In many cases, our crews can eliminate most of the discolored water by opening nearby fire hydrants to flush the discolored water from the pipe. However, if you experience discolored water, let your faucet run until the water appears clear. If the problem persists, call us at 803-268-4404.

      Rotten egg odor
      A rotten egg odor is typically caused by one of three things in your home’s plumbing system: Sulfur-producing bacteria in your water heater, a dried up S-trap in an unused sink, or decaying food in a kitchen sink disposal.

      If you only notice the odor when you use hot or warm water, it’s probably your water heater. Consult the owner’s manual for instructions on how to flush it.

      If the problem occurs in an unused bathroom, turn on the tap to fill the S-trap. If the odor is in the kitchen only, try cleaning the drain disposal.

      Pink or black growth on fixtures
      Pink staining and black growth are both are caused by airborne microorganisms that thrive in warm, moist areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms—not by anything in the water.

      Some people observe a black gunk on their faucets and in toilets. This is a type of mold that grows rapidly in dark, humid places, producing a black string-like material that can break loose and hang from faucets.

      Pink film that typically appears around drains is caused by airborne bacteria that also thrive in moist areas, such as sinks, toilets, and bathtubs.

      The best way to combat both is frequent cleaning with a bleach solution. Make sure you have proper ventilation in bathrooms, and repair dripping faucets to keep the area around drains dry.

      Earthy-musty taste and smell
      In the Spring and sometimes in the Fall, our tap water may develop what's most often described as an "earthy" or "musty" taste and smell. This is caused by natural changes in our source water. It is temporary and harmless.

      It's caused by blue-green algae in the North Fork of the Edisto. Algae produce two harmless compounds, MIB and Geosmin, which have a distinctive earthy-musty taste and odor. (Geosmin is found in beets—it gives beets their earthy flavor.)

      People’s sensitivity varies, but the human nose can detect these compounds in quantities as small as 5 parts per trillion.

    2. Water Quality Report
      Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)
      This report tells you where our water comes from and how it’s treated. It also provides a summary of our water quality test results and tells you whether we met all regulatory requirements. Water utilities are required to produce this report each year by July 1. Our report is typically available in May for the prior year's data.

    3. Lead in Drinking Water
      Lead is a soft, malleable metal that was used in everything from gasoline to plumbing materials before its health effects caused the federal government to limit its use beginning in the 1980s.

      How does lead get into drinking water?

      Lead does not occur naturally in water. It comes from lead pipes or plumbing materials. Although the use of lead pipes and solder has been banned, homes built before 1986 may still have lead plumbing.

      How does Orangeburg keep lead from leaching into water?

      We prevent lead contamination by reducing the corrosiveness of our water. Orangeburg DPU adds a compound called phosphate to the water during the treatment process. This lessens pipe corrosion by forming a thin protective coating inside pipes.

      Is lead regulated?

      Yes, the US EPA regulates lead in drinking water through the Lead and Copper Rule. The rule requires utilities to test tap water from a sampling of homes that have lead service lines or plumbing. Lead levels must be below 15 parts per billion (ppb) for 90% of the samples tested--this is called the 90th percentile result.

      If a utility exceeds that 15 ppb action level, then further action is required, including public notification/education.

      How do I know if I have a lead service line or plumbing?

      Orangeburg DPU water mains are not made of lead, but some service lines (small pipes that carry water from our water mains to homes) and plumbing components are made of lead. 

      Homes built before 1932 may have a lead service line, and those built before 1986 may have lead plumbing components.

      Lead pipes have a dull gray appearance. The scratch test is an easy way to identify lead. Use a coin to scratch the pipe surface. If the scratch appears bright silver, it’s lead.

      How can I reduce my risk of lead exposure if I think I have lead plumbing?

      There are two things you can do to protect yourself from lead exposure:
  1. Always use cold water for cooking, drinking, and mixing infant formula. Lead is less likely to corrode into cold water.

  2. If water has been sitting in your pipes for an extended period of time, such as overnight, while you're at work, or when you return from vacation, flush your plumbing by letting the cold water faucet run for 1 - 2 minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking.

If your home has old plumbing and/or solder, and you would like to test your water for lead, we offer testing for a small fee of $22. Just call our water division at 803-268-4404 to schedule a drop off/pick up of bottlesLearn more about lead and drinking water.  (https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water )

    1. Does Orangeburg have a shortage of water?
      No, we are fortunate to have an abundant water supply, even during a drought. However, water is a valuable resource, and we encourage everyone to use it wisely.

    2. Does Orangburg;s water contain fluoride?
      Yes - we adjust the level in our finished water  to approximately 0.7 mg/L during the treatment process. This is in accordance with recommendations from the CDC, US Department of Health and Human Services, and American Dental Association.

    3. How is the water disinfected?
      Orangeburg DPU uses chloramines (a compound formed by combining ammonia and chlorine) to protect against harmful microorganisms.

      Chloramines are more stable than chlorine in the water distribution system, and chloramine residuals help maintain consistent water quality. The amount of disinfectant is carefully measured to the lowest level needed to keep the water free of disease-causing organisms. Learn more about the water treatment process. (link to the water treatment page)

    4. I live in an older home, should I be concerned about lead pipes contaminating my water?
      Orangeburg DPU lessens the corrosion of lead plumbing into water by adjusting the properties of our water. We add a corrosion inhibitor during the treatment process, which forms a molecular barrier between the pipe and the water inside.
      The results of our lead testing are well below the USEPA's limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Lead testing results are included in our most recent water quality report. 2016 Water Quality Report

      As an extra precaution, customers can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing out water that has been sitting in your home's plumbing for several hours or more. Just let your water run for up to two minutes before using it for cooking or drinking.

    5. Is it okay to use the hot water tap for cooking or drinking?
      No. Always use the cold water faucet for drinking and cooking.

      Hot water from the tap comes from your water heater, which may contain impurities. Also, if you have plumbing with lead solder or brass fixtures (which contain lead), the lead is more likely to leach into hot water than cold water. Instead of using the hot water tap, heat cold water on the stove or in the microwave.

    6. Is my water safe to drink or is bottled water or filtered water safer?
      Yes, Orangeburg DPU’s tap water meets or exceeds all drinking water standards and is safe to drink.

    7. Is tap water safe for use in aquariums?
      No. Orangeburg DPU uses chloramines (a combination of chlorine and ammonia) to disinfect drinking water, and chloramines are harmful to fish and other aquatic life. There are a number of products available at pet stores to remove chloramines from your fish tank.

      Orangeburg DPU’s tap water is safe for dog, cats, and other non-aquatic pets.

    8. My dishwasher leaves water spots on my glasses. What can I do to prevent this?
      Water spots on dishes are caused by minerals in the water left behind when water evaporates. To prevent this, use a rinsing agent in your dishwasher, which improves the sheeting action of water and helps to prevent spotting.

      Also, be sure to use the proper amount of dishwashing detergent. Using too little may not get your dishes clean, and using too much can cause etching (which is tiny scratches on the surface of the glass that cannot be removed).
      The optimal amount of detergent depends on the hardness of the water (amount of minerals in the water). Our water's hardness level is about 40 ppm, or 2.4 grains per gallon. Check your dishwasher's manual for the recommended amount of detergent to use.

    9. My water tastes / smells funny. Does this mean it's not safe to drink? What should I do?
      There are a variety of factors that can impact the taste or smell of tap water but not change the quality of the water. In Orangeburg DPU’s case, algae in our surface water, when put through the treatment process, can give off harmless compounds that may cause the water to taste “earthy” or “musty.” In most cases, taste and odor are purely aesthetic concerns, and are not reliable indicators of water quality.

    10. Should I be concerned about Cryptosporidium or Giardia?
      No. We monitor our source water for both, and there is a very low occurrence of these pathogenic organisms.
      In addition, our treatment plant has multiple barriers of protection, such as enhanced chemical coagulation, filtration, disinfection, and careful monitoring of turbidity to ensure the optimum removal of these organisms. However, for people with compromised immune systems, the EPA and CDC offer the following advisory statement:

      "Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, some elderly and some infants can be particularly at risk from infections.

      These people should seek advice from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791."

    11. Should I be concerned about the sodium level of Orangeburg DPU’s  water?
      No. Our water has a very low sodium level (5mg/1 or less). This is substantially lower than most well water supplies and many bottled water brands.

    12. Sometimes my water has a milky white appearance, why?
      This is caused by air dissolved in water. Let the water stand in a glass, and the air bubbles will rise to the top and the water will become clear.

    13. What is a Boil Water Advisory?
      If the public water system becomes contaminated or a situation allows the possibility of contamination (such as a water main break or loss of system pressure),  Orangeburg DPU will issue a Boil Water Advisory.
      The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) requires the issuance of a Boil Water Advisory under certain conditions, such as widespread loss of system pressure or a large water main break.
      If an advisory is issued, we will notify customers in a variety of ways, depending on the area affected. During an advisory, customers should bring water to a vigorous boil for at least one minute and let it cool before using for cooking or drinking. This will kill any bacteria that may be in the water.

      Learn more about boil water advisories (link to the boil water advisory page)

    14. What is the pH of Orangeburg’s water?
      The pH of water is a measure of the water's acidity on a scale of 0 (acidic) to 14 (basic), with a pH of 7 being neutral. The pH of Orangeburg’s  water is adjusted to around 8.0SU.  This helps stabilize the disinfectant and to reduce the corrosion of pipes and plumbing materials. There can be some variability in our pH levels according to the water quality of our raw water coming off of the North Fork of the Edisto River.

    15. What is hardness and how hard is Orangeburg’s water?
      Water hardness is a measure of dissolved minerals in water, specifically calcium and magnesium. Soft water has little or no dissolved minerals. Hard water has higher mineral content that can cause scaling in plumbing and soap scum residue in bathrooms.

      Orangeburg DPU has moderately soft water. Our lab measures hardness in parts per million (ppm), but it can also be expressed in grains per gallon (gpg). The average hardness level of our water is 40.0  ppm, or 2.4 grain per gallon.
      Some dishwashers and washing machines have hardness-related settings or recommend how much detergent to use based on your water's hardness.

    16. Why does my water sometimes appear rusty?
      Discolored water can sometimes occur as a result of fire hydrant testing, valve testing, or work on a nearby water main.

      A change in the direction or velocity of water flow water can cause the iron compounds that accumulate in water mains to become suspended in the water, resulting in a discolored appearance.

      Typically, our crews will open a nearby fire hydrant to flush out this discolored water before it reaches customers' taps. If you experience discolored water, flush your plumbing by turning on a faucet until the water runs clear. If it persists, call us at (803)268-4404.





    1. AWOP/Partnership for Safe Water


    Partnership For Safe Water
    Partnership for Safe Water logo
    We joined the Partnership  in 1995 and  received the Directors Award in 2014.

    The Partnership is a voluntary program for water utilities that commit to treating water beyond what's required by regulations. Sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the American Water Works Association, and other water organizations, the program focuses on helping surface water treatment plants optimize operations—specifically filtration. 

    More than 200 utilities nationwide participate in the program, which has four phases of achievement and includes collection of turbidity data (a measure of the cloudiness of water), a self-assessment evaluation, and a peer review.

    Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP)
    On the state level, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) sponsors a program similar to the national Partnership program.

    The Area Wide Optimization Program, or AWOP, and the goal is to support utilities in improving disinfection and particle removal for the benefit of public health.

    Every year, DHEC recognizes water plants that go beyond the requirements of EPA regulations for drinking water. Orangeburg DPU has been awarded this recognition annually since 2004 for the John F. Pearson Water Treatment Plant.

    1. Boil Water Advisories

    Boil Water Advisories
    A boil water advisory is a precautionary measure advising people to boil their tap water before using it.

    Boil water advisories are issued after an event that could allow bacteria to enter the water distribution system. Such events include a large water main break, a widespread loss of system pressure, or a natural disaster.

    Because it takes at least 18 hours to get test results for bacteria, a boil water advisory is a precautionary measure issued until test results confirm the water is safe. Boiling water for at least one minute will kill bacteria, if any are present.


    How will I know if a boil water advisory is issued?
    We will post information here on this web site, on Twitter and Facebook, and when feasible try and notify customers via door hanger. We'll also notify the media and take other appropriate notification measures, such phone calls and sign boards.

    You can sign up to receive an email or text message notification if we issue an advisory or update an advisory. Sign up for text/email notifications.

    For more information, visit the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control web site on proper precautions to take during a boil water advisory.

    1. Water Conservation

    10 Ways to save water …

    1. Don’t leave the sink running while you brush your teeth.
    2. Fully load the dishwasher and clothes washer before running them.
    3. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run.
    4. Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping faucets can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water each year in the average home. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons per day.
    5. Install water-efficient appliances in your home. Look for appliances with the EPA WaterSense label (for more info, visit www.epa.gov/watersense)
    6. Don’t over-water your lawn—and water early in the morning or at night to avoid excess evaporation.
    7. When the driveway or sidewalk needs cleaning, consider a broom instead of a hose. It can save up to 80 gallons of water.
    8. If you have a swimming pool, use a cover. You will cut the loss of water by evaporation by 90 percent.
    9. Help preserve the quality of the available water supply by not overusing pesticides and fertilizers, avoiding flushing medications down the toilet or sink, and disposing of hazardous materials properly.
    10. Place rain barrels beneath your downspouts. The rainwater can be used for outdoor plants and trees or to wash a car. For more information on your water resources and EPA’s Water Sense program, visit www.drinktap.org.