Surface Water Project News

Sacramento River Water to Flow from Campus Taps in Early June

May 30, 2017 - Sacramento River water will begin flowing into through the campus’s potable water system (i.e., drinking water and water used in restrooms) as early as June 5. By the end of the first week, upwards of 250 gallons a minute could be flowing toward campus taps by way of a pipeline connecting UC Davis to a water treatment facility in Woodland, which has been serving the cities of Davis and Woodland since mid-2016.

At the end of May, UC Davis received an approval from the State Water Resources Control Board, to add the Sacramento River as a new source on the campus’s existing drinking water permit. While the permit was being processed, Facilities Management, Utilities crews spent the past month testing the newly installed pumps, valves and electronic control systems on Russell Field, that will boost the pressure of the Sacramento River water up to the pressure necessary for it to flow throughout campus.

Slow, but Steady

Over the next 4 to 6 weeks, crews will slowly ramp up the amount of Sacramento River water being released to the campus, until we hit our allotment of 1,250 gallons a minute. There’s two big reasons for this: we still have deep wells that can supplement surface water and facility managers want to closely monitor how this new water reacts in our distribution system. Late last year, a thorough pipeline flushing program combined with the ongoing addition of corrosion-inhibiting orthophosphate into the water, should mean the chemical makeup of this new water doesn’t cause any corrosion issues in our existing infrastructure.  

Will This Affect My Research?

Members of Utilities' Water and Gas crew standing inside the booster pump station recently constructed on Russell Field. (l to r): Jared Duncan, Nick Carpenter, Kirk Schaake and Joel McCoy.

surface water project
Members of Utilities' Water and Gas crew standing inside the booster pump station recently constructed on Russell Field. (l to r): Jared Duncan, Nick Carpenter, Kirk Schaake and Joel McCoy

The chemical makeup of the surface water is different than the groundwater currently flowing from campus taps. The surface water will be naturally “softer,” than the groundwater supply so water softeners may not be necessary. Labs that use reverse osmosis and/or deionized water will not see any impacts to their research because the campus’s building level treatment processes ensure that changing the source water does not affect the RO and DI water supplied to customers. However, if your research is set up to run on our current well water (i.e., pH, mineral content, etc.), please email the project team at to discuss possible mitigation options. 

Remember we’re still committed to reducing water use as one of many steps to improve our sustainability, so please incorporate water-saving techniques into your daily routine and help the campus fulfill its commitment to further reduce water use. If you have concerns with the water (e.g., pressure, taste, color, odors), contact the Facilities Management Customer Support Center at (530) 752-1655, or