Santa Clara Valley Water District and San Jose Water Company Statement on Water Odor Issue | Santa Clara Valley Water
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Santa Clara Valley Water District and San Jose Water Company Statement on Water Odor Issue

June 23, 2016
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San Jose Water Company and the Santa Clara Valley Water District have partnered for many decades to deliver safe, high quality, and reliable water service. The district provides drinking water to SJWC and other utilities who then deliver it to homes and businesses throughout Santa Clara County. Delivering safe drinking water that meets or surpasses all drinking water regulations is our number one priority.

Customers in the cities of Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga may have noticed in the past few weeks a slight and quickly dissipating odor that has been described as similar to a chemical or petroleum. The odor was the result of an algae bloom in the water supply prior to treatment by the district. Although algae blooms are not uncommon, this is the first time we have experienced this unique odor. While the district’s treatment process removes the algae and makes the water safe to drink, it is not always able to remove the odor that remains.

Immediate corrective actions were taken by the district and included a switch to a different water source and treatment process changes. In addition to rigorous water quality lab testing, the district has conducted regular taste and odor testing of the water leaving its Rinconada Water Treatment Plant to help identify and manage taste and odor problems.

SJWC responded to the water quality inquiries from its customers and quickly dispatched water quality inspectors to their homes. Results from samples collected at customers’ homes indicate that the water continued to meet all drinking water standards. Additional follow up with some of the customers confirmed that the odor was no longer present. Other water utilities with the same issue also report that the odor is no longer present in their water supply. A message was posted on our website to inform customers.

While multiple tests of the water conducted during this period by SJWC and the district concluded that the drinking water delivered to your home continued to meet all drinking water standards, it did not meet our own internal standards to deliver the high quality water customers have come to expect. Based on the corrective actions and diminishing customer inquiries, we believe the odor is no longer present in the water supply. Customers who continue to experience this issue are encouraged to contact SJWC’s Customer Service department at (408) 279-7900.

More information on taste and odor is available at the links below.

In the future, we hope to experience fewer episodes such as this one. Currently, the Rinconada Water Treatment Plant is undergoing a major modernization project. The project, expected to be completed in 2019, includes the addition of ozone disinfection. Ozone is a powerful disinfectant that is expected to reduce taste and odor issues. The district’s other two water treatment plants have been using ozone since 2006 and have experienced far fewer taste and odor complaints. You can learn more about the project at https://rinconadareliabilityproject.com/.


Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.