Hetch Hetchy water supply temporarily turns off

Palo Alto to get surface water supply into March

Starting Thursday, Dec. 29, Palo Alto residents will receive water from two Peninsula surface reservoirs rather than from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, city of Palo Alto Utilities Department officials said.

The city's water supplier, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), is making the change while it conducts inspections and repairs of the Mountain Tunnel pipeline, which delivers Hetch Hetchy water.

The shutdown of the tunnel is expected through the beginning of March 2017. During this period, SFPUC will provide its wholesale customers, which include many Peninsula cities, counties and water districts, with treated water from the Sunol Valley and Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plants. The SFPUC began taking water from the Sunol Valley Treatment Plant on Dec. 23.

As a result of the changes, customers might notice differences in water taste, color or odor. The mixing process can stir up sediment or algae in the water distribution system, according to the utilities department.

"Some people may notice a more earthy or musty taste or odor in the water. This typically subsides after a few days. Customers can try running the cold water (not hot) for a few minutes to clear out water in pipes or consider using a filter to alleviate taste or odor issues," utilities department officials said.

SFPUC has told city officials it will do all it can to address taste and odor changes. Palo Alto Utilities will also make adjustments to try to alleviate any local issues in the city's distribution system, the city said.

The water is tested daily by both SFPUC and the city to ensure that it meets water-quality standards. But some people are sensitive to drinking water contaminants. They should seek advice from their health care provider, who may recommend taking precautionary measures such as adding filtration devices, utilities officials said.

Palo Alto Utilities has a water resources page at for details on the quality parameters expected as a result of the water changes. Persons with questions or concerns can contact the water transmission staff at 650- 496-6967 or by email at


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1 person likes this
Posted by TCE
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 29, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Is there any TCE content in the new water sources?

Like this comment
Posted by Ken M
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2017 at 6:45 pm

TCE is added after the source, so you will not likely see any change in TCE levels.

3 people like this
Posted by What IS in the Water?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 3, 2017 at 1:45 pm

I've had to start giving my dog and cat filtered water-- since this switch in the water, BOTH started having diarrhea-- badly!
What in the world is in the new water source?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of St. Claire Gardens

on Sep 25, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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