Drinking Water FAQ

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Please review our FAQ below for more information about your drinking water. If you still have questions, please click here to fill out a Customer Service Form or call our Public Works Office at (803) 436-2558.  

  1. Where does my water come from?
    Your water comes from the ground. It is pumped from 23 deep wells that access the Black Creek and Middendorf aquifers and is treated at one of our 6 treatment plants around the city.
  2. What do the water treatment plants do to the water after it is pumped from the ground?
    The water treatment process is critical to the quality of your drinking water. Before the water enters the plant lime is used to increase the pH. It is then aerated and filtered to remove iron. Right before the water leaves the plant it is treated with fluoride for dental health, poly-phosphates to control corrosion and chlorine for disinfection.
  3. Why is the water treated to increase the pH?
    The water that we pump from the wells is slightly acidic. We add lime to increase the pH to a neutral level in order to assist in iron removal and decrease the corrosivity of the finished water.
  4. Why do you add poly-phosphates to the water?
    Phosphate serves two roles: First, it provides a protective coating in the pipes throughout the distribution system to guard against corrosion. Second, it acts as a molecular trap to keep iron molecules from falling out of solution and attaching to the walls of the pipes.
  5. Why is fluoride added to my drinking water?
    The American Dental Association, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC recommend fluoridation of drinking water to aide your overall dental health.  
  6. How does the water get to my house?
    After the water is treated it is pumped into a network of distribution pipes that carry the water to your water meter at your home.
  7. Why do I sometimes get discolored water (yellow/brown)?
    Sumter is blessed with an abundant supply of drinking water. But, the source of our water has high levels of iron. Our treatment process has been designed to remove most of the iron, but it is impossible to remove all of it. Over the years some of the iron has found its way into the distribution system and the walls of the pipes. Any time the flow of water in the system is disturbed (water main breaks, excessive use of water for fighting fires€¦) it is possible for some of the iron deposits to break free and discolor the water.
  8. Is the discolored water safe?
    While discolored water is unsightly and not very pleasant to have coming from your faucets in your home, it does not present any health concerns.
  9. What should I do if I experience discolored water in my home?
    In the event that you notice discolored water coming from your tap in your home, allow the water to flow for a few minutes to give it time to clear up. If the water does not clear up please notify Public Works at (803) 436-2558. 
  10. Sometimes I get pink or black residues and build up on or around my water tap. Why?
    Pink staining or black growth can occur in areas that remain wet or moist(sinks, toilets, bath toys) for long periods of time. This is caused by airborne microorganisms not the water. These organisms thrive in moist or wet environments. The best way to combat this problem is by keeping these areas dry if possible. You can also use disinfectant cleaning products to help in fighting this problem.
  11. Why does my tap water sometimes appear cloudy or white?
    Milky or cloudy water is often caused by air that has dissolved in the water. If you let the water sit for a short period of time the air will rise to the top and dissipate and the water should become clear.
  12. What is the pH of my tap water?
    Your drinking water pH is adjusted in the treatment process and should range from 6.8 to 7.5.
  13. Why do I have a chlorine smell of taste in my water from time to time?
    We are required by law to disinfect your drinking water. Chlorine is used to disinfect the water and protect you from harmful bacteria.
  14. Is my water tested before it reaches my home?
    The short answer is yes. Our team of water operators tests the finished water in each water plant three times a day for iron, pH, and chlorine. There is also an automated system at each water plant that is constantly monitoring the chlorine and pH levels. We also have a lab that tests the levels of fluoride and phosphates at each plant daily. We perform monthly lab tests to ensure there are no harmful bacteria in the finished water throughout the distribution system. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control test the distribution system for lead and copper on an annual bases. It is our primary goal to provide you with a safe and abundant source of water 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. 

Helpful Links

Customer Service Form
Pay Your City Utility Bill
2018 Water Quality Report
2013 Rate Increase Summary

Please Note: Our Customer Service forms are not monitored 24 hours a day. Business hours are Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm. If you have an after-hours water emergency or would like to report a water outage at your business or residence, please call (803) 436-2558 and our dispatch team will pass your information on.