This is a chunk of water, not from the City of Davis system, but from a shallower local aquifer. It is 8" in diameter and consists of hard water that has flaked off the inside of the pipe and has been cemented together by additional deposits. To remove such a deposit from a water boiler it has been suggested that one can use vinegar or a product called CLR which removes calcium, lime and rust.)

You know the saying, "Don't drink the water?" Some people feel that Davis tap water is some of the hardest, most metallic-tasting, most “flavorful” water you may have ever tried. Yet Davis water is still much better than many of the water sources people are stuck with elsewhere in the world. So be grateful for what you have, filter it, buy bottled water or get some tea (which, incidentally, is what much of the rest of the world has to do).

City water comes from 22 wells at depths of 300-1800 feet, located throughout the city; the water is filtered naturally by sand and gravel as it passes through the aquifers. The only treatment administered by the city is the addition of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) at .2ppm. Davis tap water is not optimally fluoridated. If the Conaway Ranch Joint Powers Authority received ownership of the ranch by eminent domain, tap water would not have come from wells anymore, but from the Sacramento River to which the property owner has riparian rights. The university taps a deeper aquifer than most wells in the city and tastes a little bit better due to its having fewer contaminants. Davis tap water is very alkaline with a pH close to 8. See also 06 Proposition 218 Approval Water, Sewer & Sanitation.pdf from the March 1, 2011 City Council meeting about rate increases related to the Woodland Davis Clean Water Agency.

Much of Davis' water system is currently "out of federal complicance" according to Jacques DeBra, the Utilities Director for the Public Works Department of Davis, as reported in a KCRA article. In September 2011, the City Council will decide on whether or not to construct a system to import water from the Sacramento River. The project would cost Davis about 160 million dollars and, according to an official estimate, could effectively triple the average water bill for each residence and business over the next few years. In addition, if the plan goes through, some city officials have expressed interest in possibly adding fluoride supplementation to the system.

Public water in the United States is guaranteed by the federal government to be the safest water available. It is checked against strict standards more than once per week at every water source feeding into the public system. Bottled water manufacturers are not subject to such strict regulations and the most popular brands of bottled water have been found in independent tests to contain several times the amounts of the most toxic chemicals found in United States federally regulated public water. If you are worried about adverse health effects from drinking water, please note:

  1. The regulations noted above

  2. Water consumption is necessary to continue human life

  3. Bottling water uses the next two most valuable resources to western humanity less efficiently: petroleum and energy

What's in this stuff?

The City of Davis publishes statistics in the form of Annual Water Quality Reports on city drinking water annually and distributes these to every household within the city. The Annual Water Quality Report is broken down by regulated standards (health related), non-regulated standards (taste, odor & appearance), and unregulated substances. Davis water is well within regulations and does not even come close to violating ANY health standards. However, as far as the unregulated goes, some feel the ratings could use improvement. In summary, it's not the tastiest water around, but there are no known long term health consequences.

According to the City of Davis profile:

Generally, Davis groundwater is very hard and high in dissolved solids. Selenium and nitrates are two primary substances found in Davis tap water. Selenium is a natural element in the soil which may dissolve into groundwater and nitrates are chemicals that may occur from agricultural irrigation and cultivation of the soil due to fertilizers or leaching of water from septic systems. Both selenium and nitrate levels at all city wells are below the maximum standards set by federal and/or state agencies. Long term development of water wells over 1,500 feet deep is planned to improve the aesthetic characteristics of Davis water.

TDS(total dissolved solids) 0-50 PPM Ideal drinking water(microfiltration, reverse osmosis) 50-140 PPM Often considered acceptable range for carbon filtration, mountain springs or aquifers. 140-400 PPM Average tap water. 170 PPM or above Hard water. 200-300 PPM Less desirable 300-500 PPM Unpleasant levels from tap water, aquifers or mountain springs. 500 PPM The EPA's maximum contamination level.

and in this page from a City of Davis/UC Davis Joint Water Supply Feasibility Study:

Water from the intermediate depth wells is generally very hard (high calcium level) and high in total dissolved solids. Nitrate levels are close to the drinking water limit in several wells and required abandonment of well 16. Boron levels are high enough to adversely affect sensitive plants, but not high enough to adversely affect human health. Arsenic and hexavalent chromium levels are relatively low, but may exceed future drinking water limits. Selenium concentrations are sufficiently high to cause problems at the City’s wastewater treatment plant, but are below drinking water limits.

Figure C and Figure D compare water quality of various water supply sources. In general, intermediate depth wells provide the lowest water quality for most parameters, and treated surface water from the Sacramento River is the highest water quality. Deep aquifer water quality generally lies between these two sources and represents an opportunity to improve system water quality in the near future.

But you don't need us to quote everything already posted on the city pages, right? Links are included so you can read all the most recent materials yourself! Suffice it to say that some people have no problems with the tap water and others have big issues with it. You'll have to make your own decision.

New information:

According to the most recent water quality reports, the level of chromium-6 or hexavalent chromium in the water are higher than the Oral Maximum Allowable Dose Level for Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity set by OEHHA The NDRC states that, “Ingesting hexavalent chromium causes stomach and intestinal damage and can lead to cancer. In lab animals, hexavalent chromium damages sperm and male reproductive systems, and in some cases, has damaged the developing fetus"

There are also current warnings for boron Pregnant women are advised not to drink the water.


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After a night of hard drinking, Davis water is downright wonderful. Relax and enjoy it. —ct

My geology teacher was pretty convinced that it was a pretty poor idea to drink Davis Tap Water... but my Nutrition teacher claims that it's not bad for you and possibly has minerals that are good for you. Personally I don't mind it that much. —MichaelGiardina

2005-07-02 20:48:59   I love it! I have drank filtered water in the Sierras on lots of backpacking trips and I always enjoy Davis water when I get home again. —NickSchmalenberger

2005-07-03 13:08:59   I think it's funny how people give hints to the quality of their other recommendations. You can always mentally qualify their other mental recommendations with, "Yeah, but he likes Davis tap water," or "Well, she might not have liked the other stuff, but she apparently is into "authentic" cuisine like chow mein, after all." —JaimeRaba

2005-07-04 10:20:54   No, fluoride really is toxic. It's not as toxic as lead, but is close in toxicity. It's basically banned throughout Europe. Ever wonder why fluoride toothpaste has all those warnings on it? —JaimeRaba

  • This isn't, and wasn't, accurate at all. It is _not_ banned in Europe, it's simply used differently. That's just a myth. Fluoride use has been universally shown to prevent tooth decay and help with cavity prevention. There's differing methods of treatment though, which Jaime only partially touched on. We mostly use iodized salt in the US to help prevent iodine deficiencies (which lead to goiter (thyroid), and mental retardation). Fluoridation of the water is pretty much the same thing, just done differently. And while isn't neccessarily done everywhere, in Europe many countries use fluoridated salt, specifically France and Germany. Likewise, Europe also had more readily available fluoridated toothpastes over the last few decades. (The idea being, super simplified, socioeconomic boundries were different in the US, prompting water as a better method to reach those in need). Interestingly enough many countries, even the UK, have fluoridated milk! It's aimed towards children. Many of the anti-fluoridation crowd (in general) spread fear based on toxicity, imo. I think the real issue for many people is whether it's intrusion; the safety and effectiveness isn't that controversial within the fields at all. And most people I think don't really understand the strength and amount of evidence (as opposed to disbelieving it). It flies in the face of science and all the practical effects and studies over decades, worldwide. Unfortunately, this type of thing usually happens "in the general public." -ES

2005-08-20 13:23:31   Maybe it's because I grew up in New Jersey and lived near Philly for a while - but I think Davis tap water is pretty tasty. No problems making bread with it. —BlancheNonken

2005-08-20 14:57:28   Whereas I grew up in Whitford, PA where we had our own local water supply. To me Davis water tastes foul. CLR and vinegar are acids and will indeed dissolve deposits; CLR will work faster but is a tad harsher. Wear gloves. If you use vinegar, use white vinegar. —JeffreyNonken

2005-08-20 18:38:25   Selenium in the groundwater below federal limits isn't bad for you - it's actually an antioxidant ;) Also, to prevent your dishes from getting those deposits on them, you can use JetDry or the generic equivalent. —ScottRitchie

2005-09-20 13:43:30   Selenium concentrations at higher levels cause serious birth defects in raptors. I did a study on it in Meyer for a quarter, and saw some of the nastiest, most deformed poor creatures I've ever seen in my life. It's made me extremely hesitant to consumer more selenium than necessary. On the other hand, I read an article the other day saying dentists are seeing a higher incident of cavities in young people because people are using non-flouridated (bottled) water for drinking and cooking, and not getting the protective benefits. —AlexPomeranz

2005-12-30 22:15:48   The taste of the tap water definately changes depending on where you live. My South Davis and Russell Park tap water was undrinkable, but where I live now (near Pole Line and Loyola), it's really good —JanelleAlvstadMattson

2006-03-25 22:07:18   I wouldn't and don't put Davis water in my car radiator —GrumpyoldGeek

2006-03-30 12:41:16   Fluoride is toxic, but guess what? So is alcohol. They are both beneficial in moderation. Anyway, my friend who's lived in Davis his whole life has left a glass of tap water out some nights and found a nice buildup of minerals in the morning after the water evaporated. Personally I think the Davis water tastes fine. —TR

2006-03-30 14:39:41   Guess what? Alcohol is known for its low toxicity whereas fluoride is known to be very toxic. —JaimeRaba

This is absurd. As Tushar says, moderation is important. Too much of anything can kill anybody. Ever seen the fat guy in Monty Python and the Meaning of Life? -NickSchmalenberger

  • See a few comments up for a note on fluoride sources.

2006-10-24 16:51:18   Davis water is FTW... I can taste the filtration methods used in bottled water and they all have distinct after tastes etc —StevenDaubert

2006-11-27 08:36:04   I think it is funny how people will talk so much about whether or not the water is safe when it is a matter of public record. If you don't trust the government, fix it so you can. —NickSchmalenberger

2006-11-27 08:54:59   Well...government ideas of safety change, so I don't think it's actually funny. Clinton set a limit on the amount of arsenic in water, that Bush wanted to suspend. Clinton said 10 parts per billion...before him the EPA had it to 50.. Bush officials wanted to raise it to 20 and it caused quite some news back then ( I believe research showed that would >> cancer rates). And especially because WHO and stuff said 10 is the max as well. And this is just one chemical/compound out of very many. As JaimeRaba brought up above, the rest of the world differs on flouride as well (even banning it). So, was it potentially unsafe for the last 40 years before Clinton? According to public record: no. So, is it really safe just because this government says it's under some limit? —ES

2006-11-28 16:11:40   After growing up drinking it I really have come to enjoy it, besides it gives me all the vitamins and minerals that I need! ahahahah . —StevenDaubert

2007-01-22 17:26:10   mmmm davis water is yum yum good —LexiHudson

2007-05-12 22:47:07   On the first day of school one year, my Biology Professor brought out a huge enterolith. Basically it was like a giant white rock hard kidney stone like ball that was surgically removed from a dead cow that had drunk nothing but Davis Water. It was bigger than the guy's hands. From that day on I never drank Davis Tap Water again.

(However, the professor told us that the cow got the enterolith because cows only eat grass. Humans eat other foods which turn into acid and therefore we don't get enteroliths. Aren't you glad humans don't eat grass all day long?) —Jedron

2007-09-11 08:34:17   I just moved here 2 weeks ago and (like always) drink water religiously. A couple of things I will say:

1. I have not been fully hydrated since moving here, as evidenced by the color of my urine. This is a problem posed by the amount of dissolved solids in the water keeping my body from absorbing everything.

2. I just discovered a giant gaping cavity/crater in the side of one of my teeth. Granted, my family has a genetic history of teeth problems, I have no doubt that this is because there is no fluoride in the water and my body is adjusting to that change. I hope it will resolve itself because my student dental insurance doesn't start for a few weeks! I'm just gonna go to town on the listerine and try to stop consuming so much sugar... —sweetMeliss

  • I doubt that the small levels of dissolved solids will prevent you from absorbing the water. If you just discovered a cavity in your teeth, that couldn't possibly be due to the absence of fluoride in your drinking water after just 2 weeks. Cavities can take a long time to develop. You could always get one of those fluoride rinses from your dentist to use once every week or two, to go along with brushing and flossing. - KJM
    • I took fluoride pills when I was young till a certain age due to the lack of fluoride in the water. —StevenDaubert
      • This is good advice. I have a history of bad teeth and if I neglect them for even a few days I can notice the difference, so this was a special case for me. Also, my dad is a groundwater geologist and I consulted with him a few weeks after writing my comment above. He assured me that the water here is fine. I've been using a filter for drinking water just for my own peace of mind.

2007-11-01 16:10:16   i have to say, Davis water is pretty variable in taste and alkalinity/hardness/pH (i've noticed because i test the water for my fish tank regularly). that said, today my brita filtered water tastes like crap, though the past month it's been reasonably tasteless. but compared to my hometown it's great, where the water tastes as chlorinated as pool water. to each his or her own.

also i hope jedron's comment doesn't mean i'm gonna get huge enteroliths because i eat practically like a cow, being vegan and all :). —MiranPark

2008-05-17 20:00:03   Davis water tastes like DEATH. It's horrible going from nice SF water to Davis water :[ —WaylandLee

2008-05-19 21:57:36   Why is it that when I use Davis Water to make ice, the ice cubes end up growing ice spikes? —SunjeetBaadkar

2008-05-20 08:25:03   mmm..delicious. Besides being pretty gross and strange- I have never had my icecubes grow spikes, I would like to see that sometime. —MyaBrn

2008-08-28 00:43:50   davis water is crap! it smells like sweat, blood and a hint of soured milk. and pool water. —Lala

2008-08-28 02:43:09   I grew up spoiled, in a town with ultra-nice water. I can't bring myself to drink Davis water, so I use an alhambra-style water cooler. 30c a gallon, but oh-so-delicious! —JoePomidor

2008-08-28 11:26:28   if you bottle up some water and leave it there for a few house, you'll find some mysterious stuff in the button. just a head up, if cows got enterolith because cows only eat grass, probably so can vegetarian. I am vegetarian periodically, but still, i have my concern with the Davis water after seeing the weird content floating around in the bottle. —applepearpp

2008-09-05 10:39:16   Davis water is like 1942. When Rommel's tank columns first broke Montgomery's desert rats at El Agheila and hundreds of soldiers were overrun, finding themselves alone in a scorching desert behind enemy lines. The sounds of Tiger and Panzer tanks roaring through the desert, rarely seen, but potentially always over the next dune. Scampering from hole to hole, hoping that each time you won't be cut down by a Bavarian behind a pintle-mounted .30 machinegun. You finally find a oasis, having discarded everything but some ration bars, your canteen and your trusty .303. You plunge your canteen in the water and bring it to your sun-burned lips only to see that the Libyan irregulars Rommel has commandeered have machinegunned an entire captured platoon of your British brethren and left them to rot in the oasis for several days. You look at them. And then you drink. Because it is the only way to live. You never tell your wife when you get home, nor your children, nor your grandchildren, but it haunts you every night you sleep and every time you drink a glass of water, for the rest of your days. —DominicBulone

2008-09-06 16:16:13   I don't understand the hatred for Davis water. I like the water here; its clean and tastes fine. I am from a beach town that got its water from beneath the city; it always tasted slightly like the ocean (which, while a good scent, is not a good flavor). in comparison, Davis water is heaven: its clean, which is more than i can say about the water the majority of people in the world have to drink. so stop complaining. —ascapoccia

2009-02-24 13:12:34   The above cited Water Supply Feasibility Study says that "Arsenic and hexavalent chromium levels are relatively low, but may exceed future drinking water limits", and it looks like those higher limits may be coming soon. Results of recent research by the National Toxicology Program "clearly demonstrate" that hexavalent chromium in drinking water causes cancer.

2009-02-24 13:44:01   I understand that people elsewhere in the world have it worse than in Davis. However, the is the U.S. and we have laws regarding water quality and all that, and we can afford to have nice things like water that doesn't grow crystalline calcium deposits. Just because people elsewhere in the world equate 'sanitation' with 'pooping in a bucket' doesn't mean I shouldn't clean my toilet. —JoePomidor

2009-05-20 02:38:14   Sunlight causes more cases of cancer than any drinking water anywhere, but I don't see anyone trying to outlaw that... in other news. Davis water really isn't that bad. In Winters, for instance, there is a drinking fountain in the community theater off Main Street. I performed there many times as a child, and learned VERY quickly to bring my own water rather than drinking out of it. The water was so hard it made me thirstier! And actually, I've found that, perhaps out of force of habit, filtered water tends to slake my thirst less than good old Davis tap... I think I miss the taste. —KBathory

2009-07-09 01:04:11   when enough people will drink the water, all the calcium and selenium and fluoride will break down through the processes of our body and soon there will be nothing to contaminate the water. buahahahahahahah, the human body is the filter of water, dont you get it?! of course this does not scientifically make sense.

I was having this weird burping sickness where everytime I burped I felt like I was about to faint. I thought it might have been the water as I live in south davis. I switched to getting water by the gallon at the co-op and I dont have that problem anymore. but it could be a coincidence. does anyone know anything about what I had or if the water had anything to do with it? —chand3123k

2009-08-11 11:04:06   I bought a shower filter that works quite well and installation was so easy (it simply screwed on by hand). I think I may buy an under the sink filter system from the same company (Wetter Water). Check 'em out. —christiandsouza

2010-03-02 21:41:30   I ran a 'science experiment' awhile back and boiled down the water until nothing was left.. Except a whitish/greenish mineral deposit a few millimeters thick in the bottom of the pot. Gross!

I do like that the hard water actually rinses the soap off my hands though.. I just filter it if I'm going to drink it. —StephanieRobinson

  • At times I feel like the water gets harder and soap just stops washing off me, but some people say I'm compulsive about these things. —hankim

2010-03-08 08:49:47   Anyone know what the tap waters hardness is here? —RealComputers

2010-03-08 10:21:22   According to the 2008 Davis Water Quality Report, the average water hardness is 264 parts per million. Wikipedia would place this into the 'moderately hard' range.

Davis water has been getting consistently softer over the last few years. In 2006, the water was in the next higher category of hardness. —ScottMeehleib

2010-09-18 09:31:33   A heads-up for those with companion animals - one of our elderly rabbits started showing symptoms of renal disease within a couple months of moving to Davis. We were giving her Pur filtered Davis tap water. After blood tests determined that her calcium and phosphorus levels were high, we switched her to water filtered by reverse osmosis and she's doing better every day. It may not affect humans adversely, but be aware that smaller animals (especially those whose diet mainly consists of grasses, as with the cow example above) may develop some complications.

As for vegetarians and vegans being careful about kidney stones... we're not ruminants or hindgut/foregut fermenters. Humans can't process cellulose- and silica-rich grass. I don't think we need to worry about this. —AsmaMaryamMohseni

2010-09-28 01:35:56   I started weaning myself off Crystal Geyser to Pur filtered and Davis water sure tastes...funny when compared to San Francisco water. But it's not necessarily bad, rather, Davis water has that somewhat bitter-y taste that kind of reminds me of sparkling water. Whether or not this is bad is another story. —HarrisonM

2010-09-30 02:56:58   O.K., so both my roommate and I are from the Bay Area. We've lived in Davis for the past few weeks and we BOTH are having huge amounts of hair fall out upon showering. So after a few days of having major anxiety that I had some auto-immune disease that was causing my usually thick hair to become thin and brittle, my roommate related a very interesting story to me that essentially tied all of this together:

She went to get her hair trimmed at a local salon. The hairdresser noticed large amounts of hair coming out of her scalp when she was being shampooed. The hairdresser told my roommate that the volume of hair being shed was not normal, and later told her that this was probably caused by showering in Davis water.


Concerns about my impending health were slightly eased when I heard this story, but now I am equally mortified and will drop a significant amount of money on a water purifier for my shower.

Until then, I will be washing my hair with the water from the Brita filter jug.

It's either that or my hair is falling out because I have a disease. And my roommate does too.

Has anyone has a similar experience?... —ZoeDiamond

I've been showering in Davis water for close to 9 years now and haven't experienced any hair loss. There are, what, ~65,000 people in Davis? I'm sure 99.9% of us shower in Davis water, and most of us aren't bald. I've read that many dandruff shampoos cause hair loss, and I'm sure there are many other possible explanations. Davis water strikes me as one of the least likely —TomGarberson

I personally have not experienced this, but then again I have been a swimmer for huge portion of my life and never really cared how fried my hair looked back then. Anyway, calcium content in water can actually do harm to your hair: There are deminineralizing shampoos and conditioners you could probably check out in addition to a shower head filter. —hankim

A word of caution there: the sourcing for the "facts" in that wikipedia link contains no scientific studies or source of information. It's a list in the sidebar for a low-budget website trying to sell hair care products: —tg

  • Ah, you're right. Man, I am more tired these days than I thought. Making too many newb mistakes. —hankim

I've also had trouble with hair loss, but then again, I also started grad school when I moved here. So it's tough to tell what exactly it is. —AsmaMaryamMohseni

2010-12-15 17:06:23   I hear that the city has agreed to buy permanent water rights to the Sacramento River, starting in 2016, which should drastically improve the quality of tap water in the city. —JoePomidor