Pipes and Your Water

Irvine Ranch Water District provides drinking water to more than 400,000 customers over a territory that spans 181 square miles. Our water delivery system is designed to provide the appropriate water pressure and disinfection to maintain water quality and flow under a variety of conditions.

This may create variations in water pressure and treatment, depending on a home's location.

About the Water Pressure in Your Home+

Water pressure is the force behind the flow of water coming from your tap.

What determines that force is a combination of mostly gravitational factors including: how much water is moving through your pipes, the elevation of your home and water source, the distance the water traveled to get to your tap, and how much water is being used at any given time in your neighborhood.

With so many dynamics at play — coupled with the unique circumstances of each home’s plumbing and fixtures — water pressure can vary from property to property, even from hour to hour.

IRWD’s service area covers many different land uses and elevations. Because of these variable conditions, the District’s water system is designed to provide the right water pressure to meet the needs of customers in any given area.

Low Pressure

If the water pressure at your home seems low, that could have several causes, including:

Debris or mineral buildup in your home’s pipes, faucets and aerators.

Smaller plumbing pipes inside your home, which limit the volume of water traveling to the tap.

Plumbing leaks.

Living where water has to travel a long distance or struggle against elevation gains to get to your home.

Malfunctioning water softeners, water heaters or pressure regulator valves.

High demand periods, which cause pressure losses in the system.

High Pressure

High pressure at your home can sometimes lead to water waste and may cause damage over time to pipes, appliances and fixtures from undue wear. This could be the result of:

Living in a lower-lying area where the gravitational force of water flow is higher.

Living in an older home without a pressure regulator valve, where one might be needed.

What is a PRV?

Pressure regulator valves have been a standard part of new home construction since the 2000s, and are now required by the Universal Plumbing Code when the water pressure to a new development exceeds 80 pounds per square inch (psi).

If you think you have a problem with your home’s water pressure, you may want to check with a licensed plumber to identify the cause and discuss solutions.

Water Disinfection and Chloramines+

As a customer of the Irvine Ranch Water District, you may have received information regarding copper pitting or “pinhole leaks” in residential plumbing systems. As your water provider, one of IRWD’s most important jobs is to ensure that the water we deliver to our residents and customers is safe to drink and meets Federal and State water quality standards. IRWD has its own state-certified testing program to ensure that the water delivered to your home meets these standards.

IRWD’s drinking water is a blend of groundwater from the Orange County Groundwater Basin and surface water imported by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) that has undergone rigorous treatment and water quality testing. This water is disinfected with chloramines to ensure it remains safe to drink. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: “Chloramines have been used by water utilities for almost 90 years, and their use is closely regulated. More than one in five Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramines. Water that contains chloramines and meets the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking, cooking, bathing and other household uses.”

The EPA sets federal standards for water quality, including a Federal Lead and Copper Rule. Additionally, the California Department of Public Health (DPH) enforces State water quality standards, which in many cases are even more restrictive than the Federal standards. DPH has approved specific test sites for IRWD to monitor water quality and regularly perform testing with protocols and schedules prescribed by DPH. These tests confirm that IRWD water is in full compliance with these standards.

IRWD water transmission facilities conform to all requirements of the American Water Works Association, which has for more than 100 years developed standard requirements for materials, equipment, and practices used in water treatment and supply. IRWD also follows the Standard Plans for Public Works Construction (the “Greenbook”) developed under the oversight of Public Works Standards, Inc. State Uniform Building Codes govern all private structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems constructed in California. Cities and counties are required by state law to enforce these standards in issuing all private building and occupancy permits.

Industry studies and court cases on copper pitting and chloramines are voluminous and document many causes for copper pitting regardless of water chemistry, including: improper installation (including flux, solder, dissimilar pipe material, and dissimilar pipe sizes), faulty electrical grounding, defective manufacturing, general pipe quality, improper pipe flushing at installation, galvanic corrosion from contact between dissimilar metals, movement and shifting of building, pipe buried or in contact with concrete, electrolysis (moisture and acidic soil), and sediments from hot water heaters. IRWD is not aware of any established relationship between our water disinfection and treatment process and pinhole leaks

To view the IRWD Water Quality Report and learn more about the Lead and Copper Rule, please visit this page.