Surface Water Project FAQs

Surface Water FAQs

  • When is surface water expected to start flowing from campus taps?
  • The project is scheduled to be completed and surface water to start flowing in late May 2017. 
  • Where does the campus's drinking water come from?
  • In addition to the surface water supply that is being brought to campus, UC Davis drinking water has been and will continue at times to be supplied by six on-campus wells, drawing from aquifers 800- 1,400 feet below the ground. Sacramento River surface water will be treated at a state of the art facility in Woodland before it's delivered to campus. UC Davis groundwater is not treated, aside from disinfection using chlorine. Groundwater will be blended with surface water as necessary during higher-demand periods, specifically during the summer months. Utilities staff continually monitors the quality of the water to ensure it is safe to drink.
  • How is UC Davis preparing the campus water system for this new water supply?
  • The Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency contracted with the internationally recognized engineering firm Trussell Technologies Inc. to study and provide recommendations on how to successfully introduce the treated surface water into existing distribution systems fed by wells. Based on those recommendations, UC Davis Design and Construction Management and Facilities Management will:

    • -Flush pipelines to reduce sediment that may be present and could otherwise be disturbed with changes in the direction of water flow.

    • -Add a corrosion inhibitor and adjust the pH of the treated surface water to closely match the existing groundwater, thus reducing the likelihood of corrosion or discolored water.

    • Since there is no known lead piping in UC Davis' domestic water system, the possibility of lead contaminating the campus's water supply is not considered to be an issue 

  • Why is the campus using surface water for our domestic supply?
  • In the past, high quality groundwater was plentiful enough to meet the campus's needs, and also state and federal water quality regulations. The quality of water in our wells has deteriorated and we are challenged to meet existing stricter state drinking water quality and wastewater discharge regulations without improving our water supplies. Higher-quality treated surface water is being introduced to augment our groundwater supplies, to both improve overall water quality and to meet current and future anticipated water quality regulations. We also add resilience and sustainability to our campus water supply by reducing our dependence on groundwater. 
  • Will this affect my research?
  • The chemical makeup of the surface water is different than what currently flows from campus taps. The surface water will be naturally “softer,” than the groundwater supply so water softeners may not be necessary. Labs that use pretreated RO and DI water will not see any impacts to their research. However, if your research is set up to run on domestic water of our current makeup (i.e., pH, mineral content, etc.), please see the "Your Research & Reports" page to read water analaysis reports. You can also email the project team at with questions or to discuss any possible mitigation options. 


Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency Documents & FAQs

In September 2009, the Cities of Woodland and Davis established the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency (WDCWA), a joint powers authority, to implement and oversee a regional surface water supply project. UC Davis joined the Clean Water Agency as a participating agency in the regional surface water supply project. Construction of the Regional Water Treatment Facility was completed in July 2016. Visit the WDCWA site for more information.