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WATER SYSTEM MAINTENANCE

The City of Auburn Water Department periodically conducts water system maintenance that involves flushing hydrants and water mains. We try to notify customers in advance in a variety of ways including City website, phone messages, text and email alerts, and roadway message boards placed in the area. So please expect to hear from us by one of these methods when we are working in your area.

Current Flushing Activities

Water

For service changes or questions concerning billing, email the Utility Billing Division or call 253-931-3038.

Auburn's water, unlike that of other cities, comes from deep well aquifers and springs. It is not dependent on the Cascade Mountains' snowpack replenishing open reservoirs. The City is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the water service lines from the street to the backside of the service meter. The owner is responsible for the service from the backside of the meter to the home. All plumbing in the home and landscape irrigation systems are also the responsibility of the owner. Backflow prevention devices are required on all irrigation systems and fire lines.

Residents are billed according to the amount of water used. The City has established an inclining block rate for the quantity of water consumed to promote water conservation.

Safe Drinking Water in Auburn

For many years, the City of Auburn Water Utility has been working to eliminate the threat of lead from customers' drinking water supplies. A metal used for most of the 20th century in everything from paint and gasoline to plumbing pipes and fixtures, lead has been linked to a number of serious health ailments. Because it can accumulate in the body, infants, children and developing fetuses are particularly susceptible to the effects of lead exposure.

The water from the City's wells and springs is free of lead. However, lead is sometimes present in pipes connecting older homes to the water system or in fixtures and home plumbing. The City of Auburn adjusts the water's chemistry to minimize the possibility of lead dissolving into the water, but there are additional steps you can take at home.

Have your water tested by a certified laboratory, particularly if your home was built before 1945. If you would like to test your home's water to see if lead is present, and if levels are cause for concern, the Department of Ecology has a list of accredited water quality labs that can perform the testing.

The surest way to protect against lead in water is to get the lead out altogether.

Replace Lead Service Lines

The City has a program that regularly looks at water main replacement needs within the water system and provides the funding to construct these replacements. The City has replaced many older pipelines where lead fittings between the water main and customers' water meters may have been present.

Replace Other Plumbing That Contains Lead

We recommend you use an experienced, certified plumber to look for and replace lead fittings, fixtures or other potential sources of lead.

In the meantime, if your tap water tests positive for lead, here are a few easy steps you can take right now:

  • Use a filter - Several types of inexpensive household water filters are effective at removing lead. Before purchasing, look for a certification from the NSF International that verifies the filter's ability to remove lead. It will usually be found on the packaging.
  • Run the tap before use - Lead levels are likely at their highest when water has been sitting in the pipe for several hours. Clear this water from your pipes by running the cold water for several minutes , which allows you to draw fresh water from the main. You can use this water on house plants or to flush toilets.
  • Use cold water for cooking - Always cook and prepare baby formula with cold water, because hot water dissolves lead more quickly, resulting in higher levels in water.
  • Clean aerators - Aerators are small attachments at the tips of faucets which regulate the flow of water. They can accumulate small particles of lead in their screens. It's a good idea to remove your aerators at least monthly and clean them out.

The City of Auburn is committed to providing its customers with drinking water that meets all state and federal water quality standards. If you have any further questions, please contact City of Auburn Public Works Department - Engineering at 253-931-3010.

Fluoride

The City of Auburn does not add fluoride to its drinking water. Fluoride levels at or below 0.2 mg/L are naturally present in the groundwater. Please check the Fluoride Map (PDF) for fluoride levels where you live.

Continuous Water Usage Notice - Now What?

The City regularly runs a report to show which water meters have “continuous usage”. What does that mean? It means that your water meter has recorded that water has been flowing for over 48 hours, which may indicate a leak. Our Maintenance staff then go to your water meter to investigate. If they find no leaks on the portion of the water meter/service maintained by the City, they will leave a door tag notifying you that you should investigate the cause of the water usage.

Now What?

Steps to follow to try to identify the source of the usage:

  1. Check to make sure all of your hose bibbs, yard hydrants, sink faucets, etc. are shut off.

  2. Use toilet dye tabs (provided with your door hanger or available at hardware stores) to determine if your toilets are leaking. If you do not have dye tabs, regular food dye works the same. Check all toilets. To check this:
    a. Remove the tank lid from the back of the toilet and drop in a dye tab or a drop or two of food coloring 
    b. DO NOT FLUSH THE TOILET 
    c.
    If the water in the bowl begins to turn the color of the water in the tank, your toilet is leaking. This may be what is causing your meter to run continually or it may only be a portion of the issue.
    d. Toilet repair kits can be purchased at a local hardware store or you can hire a plumber to make the repair.

  3. To identify if the leak is in the house or in the service line between the meter and house:
    a. Locate your home’s main shut off valve (older homes may not have one of these).
    b. Shut it off.
    c. If the meter is no longer running, the leak is in the house or somewhere past this valve. See How to Read My Meter (PDF).
    d. If the meter continues to run, the leak is in your service line between the house and the water meter.
    e. If you have an irrigation system, shut it off to verify if it could be the source of the leak.
    f. If you identify the leak, make the repair or hire a plumber.

  4. If you received your leak notification via mail, the leak is very small and has not been field checked by staff. Please try all the steps above to identify the leak. If you cannot find the source of the leak, please call the Water Division to investigate at 253-931-3066.

FAQs

  • How do I read my meter?
    • See How to Read My Meter above in section 3c.
  • How do you know the leak is not the City’s leak?
    • When we investigate the leak prior to leaving a door tag, our Maintenance staff look for signs of a leak in the meter box and the area adjacent. They also listen to the meter setter with an acoustic listening device.

If you have any additional questions that were not answered here, or would like to schedule an appointment with our Customer Service Tech on site, please feel free to call the Water Division at 253-931-3066.

If you have a billing question, call Utility Billing at 253-931-3038. ​

Water Conservation

Water conservation is always encouraged, whether we are experiencing a drought or above normal rainfall.

Here are some simple, effective conservation ideas:

  • Only operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers when they are fully loaded. Set the water level for the size load you are washing.
  • Take shorter showers and replace your showerhead with a low-flow showerhead. Low flow showerheads are available, free-of-charge, to Auburn water customers at the Customer Care Center, City Hall Annex second floor.
  • Replace your old, high-water-use toilet with a low flow toilet. For information on Auburn's toilet rebate program, visit the city's website at Frequently Asked Questions - WaterSense Toilet Rebate Program (PDF).
  • Turn off the tap when brushing teeth. Letting the faucet run can waste up to 4 gallons of water.
  • Do not wash your cars or recreational vehicles at home; use commercial car washes that recycle water.
  • Consider drought-tolerant plants as you plan your garden this year.

Conservation Promotions

Avoid Cross Connections

The City of Auburn water system provides drinking water that is safe to drink and meets all State Department of Health and Federal health standards.

One of the concerns of the Washington State Department of Health involves drinking water cross connections. A cross connection is any connection between a safe drinking water source and a unsafe source of water or liquid. This connection presents a health risk and needs to be eliminated or controlled. For more information on eliminating or controlling cross connections, download this helpful brochure .

If you need help determining what type or where to install a backflow device, or the safety of your plumbing with regards to backflow, please contact the City of Auburn Cross Connection Control Specialist at 253-931-3064. You may also request a Water Usage Survey Questionnaire or an on-site survey at the same number.

Backflow devices need to be tested annually to ensure that they are functioning properly to protect your health and to prevent contaminants and pollutants from entering the public water system. The customer is responsible for hiring a certified backflow testing company to perform this annual test. For information about companies who are registered to perform backflow assembly testing in the City of Auburn, consult the City's "2019 City of Auburn Registered Backflow Assembly Testers" list (PDF).

Comprehensive Water Plan


For questions or concerns regarding the following, please contact City of Auburn Public Works Department - Maintenance and Operations at 253-931-3048:

  • new installations
  • repairs
  • maintenance of existing services
  • water quality
  • water pressure problems
  • help in locating leaks
  • reporting broken hydrants or leaking water mains

After-hour water emergencies are currently handled by calling the emergency operator at 911.


Usage Reports

Quality Reports