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Links to frequently asked questions and answers about Stockton Municipal Utilities:


General Water Questions

Q:  Where does our water come from?

A:  Our water comes from groundwater (wells), surface water supplied to us by Stockton East Water District, and the Delta.


Q:  What is the water pressure in my area?

A:  Pressure varies throughout the day, it is usually anywhere from 45 to 55 psi.


Q:  Are all water mains in the middle of the street?

A:  Water mains are behind the curb and below gutter flowlines and, in some cases, in a customer's backyard.


Q:  Does the City of Stockton locate services for customers?

A:  We will locate only if the customer has a leak or if they are replacing their lines.


Q:  How deep are service lines?

A:  We suggest they be no deeper than 18 inches.  In some cases they are 2-4 feet deep.


Q:  Why do city employees take a boat out on the river ?

A:  The City is required by the State of California Regional Water Quality Control Board to monitor the quality of the water in the San Joaquin Delta, because we discharge treated sewage into the Delta. While out on the river, we check oxygen levels, pH ( acidity or alkalinity), and temperature of the water.  We also collect samples that are returned to the laboratory for further analysis.


Water Quality

Q:  Is my water safe to drink ?

A:  The City of Stockton, along with all other purveyors of drinking water, is required by the State of California Department of Health Services to conduct extensive testing of the water they supply to the public.  This is mandated by a regulation known as Title 22.  The results of this testing are provided to the public by means of an annual water quality report that is mailed to rate payers in the spring of the year.  This report lists all contaminants for which analyses are performed, and gives the average, high, and low levels of the contaminant that were detected in the analyses.  Copies of this report are available from the Municipal Utilities Department.  If you have any questions regarding interpretation of these results, contact our Water Quality Hotline.


Q:  Why does my water have a "brown" or "reddish" color?

A:  Sometimes when water crews are isolating valves it causes disturbance in the water lines and can cause harmless sediment such as iron manganese to flow through the lines.  The sediment can be flushed out by opening the outside hose bib.  The water will not harm pipes and it is not unsafe, but it would be best to flush at the front hose bib and run the outside irrigation system until clear.  If, after following these procedures, the problem persists, field staff can be dispatched to investigate.


Water Meters

Q:  Does every meter have a leak detector on it?

A:  Older meters will not have a leak detector. A leak detector is a small triangular shaped feature visible on the face of the water meter.  If the leak detector is moving, while all fixtures, or faucets are shut off, that usually indicates water is being lost somewhere.  If the house valve is turned off and the leak detector is moving, that usually indicates that the service line is leaking (the pipe feeding water to the house from the water meter).


Q:  Does the City of Stockton replace meter boxes (new subdivision) when a contractor breaks them?

A:  All meter boxes are installed at the time the subdivision is being established.  If the contractor calls and says the meter box is broken, it is his responsibility to replace it.  If he calls and says the meter box is missing or that there is no meter box, it could have been removed by another contractor; however, it is the contractor's responsibility to replace the box.


House Valves

Q:  Where is my house valve located?

A:  House valves will be a pipe extending from the ground, below a faucet that is feeding water into the house. It can be in the front, back, or side of the house.  Generally, if the meter is in the front yard, the house valve will be in the front yard, etc. In some cases, especially in older homes, the house valve may be buried below ground.


Q:  Does every house have a house valve?

A:  Yes. Although sometimes in older homes, the valve might be below the ground and not visible.


Q:  Can the City of Stockton pinpoint a leak for a customer?

A:  We can only show them where the water is surfacing.


Water Pressure/Volume

Q:  What is the difference between pressure and volume?

A:  Pressure is the amount of water you get in force (PSI), and volume is the amount of water you are capable of receiving through your line.


Q:  What if my water pressure seems low?

A:  Check your house valve to make sure it is fully opened.  Most times on service calls, the house valves are partially open, especially if the customer has just moved in or if it is a new home.  Once the house valve is fully open, the volume of water will be sufficient.


Q:  What if the problem is not the house valve?

A:  When a customer calls and complains of "low pressure," it is usually not a low pressure complaint, but a low volume complaint.

  • If the problem is inside the home (internal), it is a volume problem, not pressure.
  • If the problem is at a particular fixture or faucet inside the home, that faucet or aerator screen might possibly be plugged.  Remove and clean the aerator or faucet screen and see if that solves the problem.  If this procedure does not resolve the "low pressure" at that particular faucet, then a plumber should be called because the problem is internal.  Internal problems are not the responsibility of the City of Stockton.
  • If you have recently installed a new irrigation system and are experiencing low pressure in the irrigation system, the system was probably "over-designed."  The customer will need to modify their system or contact a plumber.



Q:  Can I fill my swimming pool?

A:  New swimming pools may be filled at any time.  However, the water conservation ordinance restricts citizens from draining and refilling their existing swimming pools.  

But there are instances when a variance can be granted.  To request a variance against this restriction, send a written request to the Municipal Utilities Department and briefly state the reason to drain and refill your existing swimming pool.


Q:  Can I discharge my pool water into the gutter or street?

A:  Pool water should only be discharged into the sewer cleanout where water will be treated before it is discharged into the Delta.



Q:  What kinds of stormwater discharges are required to have NPDES stormwater permit coverage?

A:  The NPDES stormwater permit regulations, promulgated by EPA, cover the following classes of stormwater discharges on a nationwide basis:

  • Operators of MS4s located in "urbanized areas" as delineated by the Bureau of the Census.
  •  Industrial facilities in any of the 11 categories that discharge to an MS4 or to waters of the United States; all categories of industrial activity (except construction) may certify to a condition of "no exposure" if their industrial materials and operations are not exposed to stormwater, thus eliminating the need to obtain stormwater permit coverage.
  • Operators of construction activity that disturbs one or more acres of land.  Construction sites less than one acre are covered if they are part of a larger plan of development.


Q:  What types of construction activities are regulated under the construction stormwater permit program?

A:  All construction activities one acre or larger must obtain permit coverage.  Construction activities less than one acre must also obtain coverage if they are part of a larger common plan of development or sale that totals at least one acre.  Small construction activities (less than five acres) may qualify for a waiver.


Fats, Oil, and Grease (FOG)

Q:  What is FOG and why should I care?

A:  FOG refers to fats, oil, and grease that are generated from normal business operations of food service establishments (FSEs).

FOG is produced by restaurants, cafeterias, delis, bakeries, daycares, assisted living facilities, social halls, and residential homeowners – basically, anyone who deals with food preparation, especially while cooking.

Common sources of FOG include meat fats, dairy products, food scraps, cooking oils, baked goods, sauces, dressings, sandwich spreads, gravies, marinades, dairy products, shortening, lard, butter, margarine, etc.

FOG is commonly washed into the plumbing system during food preparation or cleanup through the kitchen sink.  As it travels, it congeals and decreases pipe capacity both inside the FSE and in the main sewer system.  FOG can block your drain, your neighbor’s drain, and main collection lines, potentially becoming an environmental and public health risk.

FOG gets into the sewers mainly from commercial food preparation establishments that do not have adequate grease control measures in place, such as grease interceptors. 


Q:  What are the costs associated with FOG?

A:  To your business: As your sewer pipes back up, the sewage and food particles that accumulate can attract insects and other vermin, cause unpleasant odors, and could create health hazards. Property damage can also result from sewage backups and lead to expensive cleanup and plumbing repairs.  Health code violations or closures can greatly impact your business.

To the Environment: Clogged sewers can lead to overflows.  As sewage overflows onto streets, it enters the storm drain system and is carried to our local creeks and waterways, creating health risks for swimmers, fish, and plant life.

To the City: Increased sewer blockages and overflows lead to costly maintenance and can result in severe fines from State regulatory agencies.  This can increase your sewer fees.


Q:  Why shouldn't FOG go down the drain?

A:  When FOG is released into the sewer lines in any amounts, it poses a serious threat to the City's sanitary sewer collection system's ability to remove waste from our community.  FOG sticks to the sides of pipes, decreasing the pipe's capacity and eventually blocking the pipe entirely.  This requires our sewer piping to be cleaned more often and equipment replaced due to grease-related damages. 


Q:  Why is the issue of Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) important?

A:  Overflowing sewers release bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that may be hazardous to human health.  The sewage may be released into your business or home, or into our waterways, streets, and parks.  SSOs are unpleasant and expensive to clean up,and if they occur on your property, it is you, the property owner, who is responsible for the cleanup.

External Links

US Environmental Protection Agency NPDES Stormwater Permit Coverage waiver  

This City of Stockton web page last reviewed on --- 2/5/2015