Drinking Water Quality Report

The City of Winchester, Public Utilities Department is pleased to present its 2021 Annual Water Supply and Quality Report. This report was prepared in accordance with the Virginia Health Department Rules and Regulations and the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which require every drinking water supplier to provide the public with an annual statement describing the water supply and the quality of its water.


This Annual Drinking Water Quality Report for calendar year 2021 is designed to provide you with valuable information about your drinking water quality. The City of Winchester is committed to providing you with a safe and dependable supply of drinking water, and we want you to understand the efforts we make to protect your water supply. The quality of your drinking water meets all state and federal requirements administered by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). 

Este informe contiene información muy importante sobre su agua potable. Tradúzcalo o hable con alguien que lo entienda bien.

If you have questions about this report, want additional information about any aspect of your drinking water, or want to know how to participate in decisions that may affect the quality of your drinking water, please contact: 

Don Riggleman at (540) 667-1815, ext. 1422 or email

Photo of the Shenandoah River with Water Quality Report 2021

To download a PDF version of the 2021 report (3/16/22), click here.

General Information

As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. Substances (referred to as contaminants) in source water may come from septic systems, discharges from domestic or industrial wastewater treatment facilities, agricultural and farming activities, urban storm water runoff, residential uses, and many other types of activities. Water from surface sources is treated to make it drinkable while groundwater may or may not have any treatment.

All drinking water, including bottled drinking water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. More information can be obtained by calling the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immunocompromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by cryptosporidium and other microbiological contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).

Sources and Treatment of Your Drinking Water

Your drinking water is surface water obtained from the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Two booster pump stations, five storage tanks, and variously sized distribution pipes distribute water throughout the city. 

All water supplied to the city undergoes treatment. This treatment is accomplished at the Percy D. Miller Water Treatment Plant prior to distribution and consists of:

  1. Chemical addition, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration to remove turbidity
  2. Chlorination to disinfect the water
  3. Fluoridation to aid in reducing tooth decay

Source Water Assessment

A source water assessment for the City of Winchester was completed by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in July 2020. This assessment determined that the City's raw water source, the North Fork Shenandoah River, may be susceptible to contamination because it is surface water exposed to a wide array of contaminants at varying concentrations. Changing hydrologic, hydraulic, and atmospheric conditions promote migration of contaminants from land use activities of concern within the assessment area. More specific information may be obtained by contacting the water system representative referenced within this report.

Quality of Your Drinking Water

Your drinking water is routinely monitored according to Federal and State Regulations for a variety of contaminants. The table below shows the results of our monitoring for the period of January 1, to December 31, 2021.

Most of the results in the table are from testing done in 2021. However, the state allows us to monitor for some contaminants less than once per year because the concentrations of these contaminants do not change frequently. Some of our data, though accurate, is more than one year old.


In the table and elsewhere in this report you will find many terms and abbreviations you might not be familiar with. The following definitions are provided to help you better understand these terms:

Action Level (AL): The concentration of a contaminant which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements which a water system must follow.

Level 1 Assessment: A study of the water system to identify potential problems and determine, if possible, why total coliform bacteria have been found in our water system.

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL): The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology.

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG): The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL): The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal (MRDLG): The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contamination.

Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU): A measure of the clarity of water. Turbidity in excess of 5 NTU is just noticeable to the average person.

Non-detects (ND): Lab analysis indicates that the contaminant is not present

Parts per billion (ppb) or Micrograms per liter (μg/L): One part per billion corresponds to one minute in 2,000 years, or a single penny in $10,000,000.

Parts per million (ppm) or Milligrams per liter (mg/L): One part per million corresponds to one minute in two years or a single penny in $10,000.

Picocuries per liter (pCi/L): A measure of the radioactivity in water.

Treatment Technique (TT): A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.

Water Quality Results

We constantly monitor for various contaminants in the water supply to meet all regulatory requirements. The tables list only those contaminants that had some level of detection. Many other contaminants have been analyzed but were not present or were below the detection limits of the lab equipment.

Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL’s) are set at very stringent levels by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In developing the standards EPA assumes that the average adult drinks two liters of water each day throughout a 70-year life span. EPA generally sets MCL's at levels that will result in no adverse health effects for some contaminants or a one-in-ten-thousand to one-in-a-million chance of having the described health effect for other contaminants.

City of Winchester Public Utilities
PWSID # 2840500
CCR Data Table 2019


Contaminant MCLG MCL Level Found
Unit Measure Lowest Monthly %<0.3 NTU Violation Sample Date Typical Source of Contamination
Turbidity (1) NA TT 0.11
NTU 100% NO February 2021 Soil Runoff

(1) Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of the water. We monitor it because it is a good indicator of water quality and the effectiveness of our filtration and disinfection process.

Total Organic Carbon

Contaminant MCLG MCL Level Found Unit Measurement Violation Sample Date Typical Source of Contamination
Total Organic Carbon (2) NA TT Yearly Avg. 1.45 Ratio of Actual to Required Removals NO 2021 Naturally Present in Environment

(2) Total Organic Carbon (TOC) has no health effects but provides formation medium for disinfection by-products. These by-products include Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Haloacetic acids (HAA5).

Radiological Contaminant

Contaminant MCLG EDA Level
of Concern
Level Found Unit Measurement Violation Sample Date Typical source of contamination
Alpha Emitter 0 15 <0.36 pCi/L NO 02-26-18 Erosion of natural deposits
Beta Emitter 0 4 mrem/yr 3.9 pCi/L NO 02-26-18 Decay of natural and man-made deposits
Combined Radium 0 5 <0.45 pCi/L NO 02-26-18 Erosion of natural deposits

Inorganic Contaminants

Contaminant MCLG MCL Level Found Unit Measurement Violation Sample Date Typical Source of Contamination
Nitrates 10 10 1.79 mg/L NO 02-07-21 Runoff from fertilizer use; leaching from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits
Barium 2 2 0.040 mg/L NO 02-07-21 Erosion of natural deposits; Discharge from metal refineries; Discharge of drilling wastes
Sodium n/a n/a 10.9 mg/L NO 03-16-21 Sodium may reach both ground and surface water supplies as a result of residential, commercial and industrial activity, such as road salting
Fluoride 4 4 0.74 mg/L NO 02-07-21 Erosion of natural deposits; Discharge from fertilizer and aluminum factories; Water additive, which promotes strong teeth

Total Coliform

Contaminant MCLG MCL Level Found Unit Measurement Violation Sample Date Typical Source of Contamination
Total Coliform Preference or Absence 0 Presence of Coliform Bateria (E. Coli) in >1 Sample per Month 0 P/A NO 2021 Naturally present in the environment

Disinfectant and Disinfectant Byproduct Contaminants

Contaminant MCLG MCL Level Found Unit Measurement Violation Sample Date Typical Source of Contamination
Halo Acetic Acids (HAA5) 0 60 Avg. 49 
(Range 26-55)
ppb NO 2021 By-product of water chlorination
Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM)  0 80 Avg. 63
(Range 26-95)
ppb NO 2021 By-product of water chlorination

Disinfection Residual

Contaminant MRDLG MRDL Level Found Unit Measurement Violation Sample Date
Residual Chlorine 4 4 Avg. 1.64
(Range 0.3-2.5)
mg/L NO Monthly

Lead and Copper

Contaminant MCLG MCL Level Found Unit Measurement AL Exceeded Samples > AL Sample Date Typical Source of Contamination
Lead 0 AL=15 ND ppb NO 0 06/2021 Corrosion of household plumbing systems; Erosion of natural deposits 
Copper 1300 AL=1300 110 ppb NO 0


Sodium was detected at a concentration of 10.9 mg/L. There is no MCL for sodium, we are providing this information for consumers who wish to know the level of sodium in our water. For individuals on a very low sodium diet (500 mg/day), EPA recommends that drinking-water sodium not exceed 20 mg/L. To avoid adverse effects on taste, EPA recommends that sodium concentrations in drinking water not exceed 30 to 60 mg/L, a threshold for taste-sensitive segments of the population.

*ND = Non-Detectable
1Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of the water. We monitor it because it is a good indicator of our water quality and the effectiveness of the filtration process.
2Turbidity TT = 1 NTU Max; </= 0.3 NTU in at least 95% of all samples tested.
3Total Coliform bacteria are analyzed every month. Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present. 

Lead Contaminants

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The City of Winchester is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800-426-4791) or at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Backflow and Cross-Connection Control

The City is committed to help ensure the safety of our water by means of a backflow and cross-connection control program. During the recent water meter replacement project, the City of Winchester installed double check valves to prevent the possibility of water flowing backwards and creating a vacuum, better known as back siphonage. Back siphonage is a major cause of back flow.

Additional information and City of Winchester Code information can be found online. Once at this location, the information is listed under the following division: Division 3. - Backflow Prevention and Cross-Connection Control.

Violation Information

Monitoring and Reporting

During the third quarter (July through September) of 2021, we failed to obtain the sample for the removal rate of Total Organic Carbon (TOC) from our source water. We did perform daily UV254 monitoring, which is a measurement of the amount of light absorbed by organic compounds. This monitoring for organics was performed on our raw, settled, and finished water.

Our water remains safe and there is nothing you need to do at this time. We collected samples to analyze for this contaminant during October 2021, and results indicated the proper removal of TOC.

Water Quality

We were in full compliance with all water quality monitoring, and no violations occurred during the calendar year 2021.

The waterworks owners prepared this Drinking Water Quality Report with the assistance and approval of the Virginia Department of Health. Please call if you have any questions. Contact Don Riggleman at (540) 667-1815, ext. 1422 or email.

Frequently Asked Questions

At times, my drinking water looks “milky” when first taken from a faucet, but then clears up. Why?

Air becomes trapped in the water as it makes its long trip from the treatment plant and storage reservoirs to the customer. As a result, bubbles of air can sometimes cause water to appear cloudy or milky. This condition is not a public health concern. The cloudiness is temporary and clears quickly after water is drawn from the tap and the excess air is released.

At times I can detect chlorine odors in tap water. What can I do about it?

Chlorine odors may be more noticeable when the weather is warmer. Chlorine is a disinfectant and is added to the water to kill germs. The following are ways you can remove the chlorine and its odor from your drinking water:

  • Fill a pitcher and let it stand in the refrigerator overnight. (This is the most effective way to address a chlorine odor in drinking water.)
  • Fill a glass or jar with water and let it stand in sunlight for 30 minutes.
  • Pour water from one container to another about 10 times.
  • Heat the water to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once you remove the chlorine, be sure to refrigerate the water to limit bacterial regrowth.

Sometimes my water is a rusty brown color. What causes this?

Brown water is commonly associated with plumbing corrosion problems inside buildings and from rusting hot water heaters. If you have an ongoing problem with brown water, it is probably due to rusty pipes. It is recommended that you run your cold water for 2-3 minutes, if it has not been used for an extended period of time. This will flush the line. You can avoid wasting water by catching your “flush” water in a container and using it to water plants or for other purposes. Brown water can also result from street construction or water main work being done in your area. Any disturbance to the main, including the opening of a fire hydrant, can cause pipe sediment to shift, resulting in brown water. The settling time will vary, depending on the size of the water main.

Should I buy bottled water?

You do not need to buy bottled water for health reasons in the City of Winchester since our water meets all federal and State health department-based drinking water standards. In addition, bottled water costs up to 1,000 times more per year than Winchester’s drinking water.