Water Quality

Objective 7, maintain excellent water quality
Water Production lab testing

Objective 7: Maintain Excellent Water Quality

Relevant Standards

  • Meet or surpass drinking water regulations
  • Meet customer needs in terms of taste, odor, and consistency
  • Comprehensive knowledge of local sources of contamination
  • Broad industry knowledge of water quality issues, best practices, and future regulations
  • Ensure that reclaimed water quality meets the needs of intended use


Flagstaff enjoys high quality water in part due to the fact that 70% of potable water comes from deep well aquifers. While groundwater requires little treatment, surface water passes through multiple treatment steps prior to distribution. Water from Upper Lake Mary requires more treatment than groundwater and is also more susceptible to environmental factors such as wildfires and reduced snowpack due to climate change.


Due to Flagstaff’s water sources, drinking water quality is typically not a major concern. As most of Flagstaff’s water sources (wells) are located in the forest and transported into town through pipelines, water quality challenges are primarily infrastructure and environmentally related, as mentioned in Strategic Objectives 3 & 5.  Water quality for Upper Lake Mary becomes an issue due to the runoff implications of wildfire.

With groundwater wells relied upon to provide high quality water for specific neighborhoods, the need for local or proximal redundancy exists due to risk of single points of failure with a specific well. Loss of high-producing wells in strategic locations could lead to local water quality degradation in isolated neighborhoods.

Many communities are dealing with Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), which are unregulated.  In 2013, the City Manager convened an advisory panel of national, state and local experts to help understand what CECs mean locally.  The panel determined after their five-year study that there is no evidence at the present time that the continued use of reclaimed water in Flagstaff poses undue risk to human health.  However more attention to CECs will occur when considering indirect or direct potable reuse.

Timing Concerns

Not critical from a timing perspective. Providing high-quality water is an ongoing commitment.

Specific Responses

  Champion Action Items Timing
1.    Maintain critical groundwater well equipment in reserve and         where possible create redundancy in groundwater wells               and/ or distribution lines. ________________ ______________________
2.    Increase its knowledge about local water quality above and           beyond what is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.      
3.    Participate with research institutions on best practices for           addressing CEC’s.      
4.    Improve the quality of communications, providing clear                 information on current and future water quality issues and           concerns.      

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