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Water Quality

Water Quality at a Glance

Parameter District 2 Regulatory limit
Total Chlorine 0.82 mg/l 4.0 mg/l
pH 9.0 S.U. 7.0 - 10.5 S.U.
Fluoride 0.95 mg/l 4 mg/l
Total Alkalinity 70 mg/l not established
Total Hardness

131 mg/l

not established
Sodium 27 mg/l not established

mg/l (milligrams per liter)—This is equivalent to parts per million

S.U. (Standard Unit)—This is the unit for measuring pH results

gpg (grains per gallon)—This is an alternative measure of hardness commonly used to set water softeners

For more detailed information about your water quality, please review our list of parameters tested by BCWS or our suppliers Quarterly Water Quality Report. Also, view our Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) below for a summary of the last 3 years of data , or contact BCWS Customer Care at (513) 887-3066.

2021 CCR

2020 CCR

2019 CCR


What is the source of our water?

Tap Water
Bottled Water
Regulated by EPA Regulated by FDA
Costs pennies a day—about $.0004 per gallon Costs $.80 - $4.00 per gallon
Contains essential nutrients such as calcium and iron Some bottlers filter out nutrients- Check the label or contact the supplier.
Residual chlorine prevents bacterial growth Some do not have a residual disinfectant to prevent bacterial growth as water ages

Our customers receive water purchased from the city of Hamilton, and from Greater Cincinnati Water Works. Both cities use and treat water from the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer, an underground water basin. The city of Cincinnati also uses and treats water from the Ohio River.

The water is treated to meet stringent water quality standards. It is pumped into storage tanks located throughout Butler County until it is sent into our distribution system to be delivered to your home or business.

For more detailed information on protecting our ground water source click here:  http://www.gwconsortium.org

For more detailed information on protecting our surface water source click here: http://orsanco.org/

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Not necessarily. Both tap water and bottled water are regulated to ensure water quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates all public water systems while bottled water is regulated under the Food and Drug Administration regulations. Depending on the source of the water and the treatment process, some bottled waters may contain more or less amounts of substances than tap water.

BCWS water quality information is available here. For bottled water check the label or contact the bottled water supplier for their product’s test results.

People with compromised immune systems should check the water quality test results for BCWS or their bottled water supplier, and consult their doctor before deciding which source is best for them.

Under special circumstances, such as during an emergency, bottled water can be a good choice. EPA publications contain more information about drinking water and your health. This information is available at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwh/index.html

Why did I get a Water System Maintenance Notice on my door?

When a main break or other problem in the water system results in a loss of pressure below 20 psi, the Ohio EPA recommends issuing a precautionary boil advisory to all affected customers. It usually takes about 24-48 hours to fix main breaks and get the results of water sample testing. We will notify you with a new door tag if the advisory continues longer than 48 hours.

My water has an odor, what should I do?

Sewer Gas odor- Often odors that appear to be coming from running water are coming from the drain. If it seems that your water has a “sewer gas” odor, plug the drain then allow the water to run. If there is no odor to the running water, cleaning the drain will usually correct the problem.

“Cat urine”, “fuel oil” or “chemical odor”- These odors occur when the residual chlorine disinfectant, Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2), combines with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) given off by common household items. VOCs are what create the smell of new carpets, paint, flowers, pine wreaths, upholstery, scented soaps and other household products. When the ClO2 and VOCs combine, you may get an odor that does not smell like either chlorine or the source of the VOC. To reduce these odors, you can increase the ventilation of your home to reduce the level of VOCs or use an activated carbon filter to reduce the level of ClO2.

Chlorine odor- Occasionally a “chlorine” smell is due to a slight increase in the level of chlorine in the water. This is generally due to a water main break or other maintenance or a re-routing of the water through our system. It will usually clear itself up within a short time.

“Musty odor” in my washer- Sometimes musty odors can be caused by bacterial growth in washing machines.  Bacteria can grow in washing machines because of standing water and detergent coating the washing machine drum.  This will create the musty-moldy & sour odors, especially with High Efficiency washing machines.  Clean all visible dirt and detergent/fabric softener remnants from the machine.  Run the machine with a mixture of hot water and vinegar OR hot water and bleach- Do Not Mix Chemicals.  Another option is to purchase a commercial washing machine cleaner at the store. After washing clothes, leave door open to dry out machine.  Use appropriate amounts of soap- check the label as the appropriate amount changes with each brand.

If you are unable to determine the origin of the odor; please call our Customer Care Department at (513) 887-3066.

My water is discolored?

Rusty or yellow water – This usually is from mineral deposits stirred up during hydrant flushing, fire-fighting, line breaks or maintenance. The local fire department lists scheduled hydrant flushing in the newspaper. Try not to use water during these times to avoid pulling deposits into your home's plumbing.

Rusty water will generally clear up within 2-3 hours after the line is repaired or hydrant closed. You will need to run your cold water for several minutes to flush the rusty water from the lines in your house. Try not to run the hot water because that can deposit rust in your hot water tank.

If your laundry gets stained by rusty water, keep it moist. Buy a rust remover and follow the directions on the package.

Cloudy or milky-looking water- This is usually caused by dissolved air bubbles in the water. Air bubbles are harmless and are caused by pressure changes, temperature changes, water that is too hot (above 140° F) and faucet aerators. To check for air bubbles, fill a glass container with water: if the cloudiness is caused by air bubbles, it will clear from the bottom of the container toward the top. Running your tap until the water is clear will take care of the issue.

Why are there particles floating in my water?

Black, brown or rusty particles - These are usually mineral deposits that have broken loose during hydrant flushing, line breaks or line maintenance. Flush your lines by running the cold water for several minutes. If the water does not clear, the particles could be coming from breakthroughs in your hot water heater or filter system. Call a licensed plumber to investigate the problem.

White or tan particles- If these are floating on the surface of the water, the problem may be coming from your hot water heater. The plastic dip tubes in water heaters often disintegrate with pieces going through the plumbing and being trapped in faucet aerators. Call a licensed plumber to investigate the problem.

If particles are showing up in ice cubes but not in your drinking water glass, check the automatic ice maker and clean according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Why is there a pink or black ring in my toilet?

Bacteria, fungus and mold spores normally found in the air can deposit on the water’s surface and grow, causing a ring in your toilet bowl. Wet surfaces provide ideal conditions, and the organisms reproduce rapidly, growing together to form a ring. The color of the ring depends on the species of bacteria, mold or fungus.

You can easily remove the rings with a toilet bowl brush and household cleaners. Close the toilet lid and windows to reduce the number of spores and reduce the light needed for growth.

Is there is lead in my water?

BCWS follows EPA regulations and guidelines for water system lead testing. Our tests indicate that system-wide, the lead levels in BCWS’s water are below the EPA limits.

However, lead from your home's plumbing fixtures can leach into your water.  Lead pipes and solder are easily identified by scratching them with a house key, if they are lead, the scratch mark will be very shiny. You can contact a private laboratory about testing the lead level in your home’s water.

For more information, see BCWS’s Lead and Copper Fact Sheet

Is there fluoride in the water?

BCWS’ water contains fluoride that is added by our suppliers (city of Hamilton and GCWW) in a manner consistent with EPA regulations. The average concentration of fluoride in BCWS water is 1.0 ppm.

For more information about fluoride in drinking water:

USEPA’s fluoride website: http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/fluoride.cfm

Ohio Department of Health fluoride website:


What causes pinhole leaks?

Experts currently think that pitting in pipes can start from many factors yet it is difficult to explain why pitting occurs in one section of pipe but not in others.

For more detailed information on pinhole leaks, click here

How do I get information about pharmaceuticals found in drinking water?

Studies show that pharmaceuticals and personal care products are present in some drinking water. One of our suppliers Greater Cincinnati Water Works has tested and found trace levels of caffeine in their drinking water. For more detailed information on pharmaceuticals, click here

IS BCWS testing for any pharmaceuticals in the water?

BCWS has not tested for pharmaceuticals in the drinking water we serve. However, one of our suppliers, Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW), has tested. GCWW found trace amounts of caffeine in their drinking water.

GCWW has also tested their Ohio River source water and found trace levels of four pharmaceuticals. These substances did not show up in the treated drinking water. The following were found in the parts per trillion (ppt) range:

  • Gemfibrozil, which is used to lower lipid levels
  • Ibuprofen, which is an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory)
  • Sulfamethaxazole which is a synthetic antibacterial
  • Ethinyl estradiol which is an estrogen

Pharmaceuticals - How much is in the water?

Water professionals are finding these substances because we now have the technology to detect more substances, at lower levels, than ever before. It is important to understand that the levels at which these compounds have been found are extremely low. When detected, levels are consistently at "trace amounts" that are substantially below even a single pill. On average, all pharmaceuticals detected in U.S. drinking water are below 10 part per trillion (ppt), except caffeine at 25 ppt.

Pharmaceuticals - What can the public do?

The best and most cost-effective way to ensure safe water at the tap is to keep our source waters clean. Current wastewater treatment plant technology is not designed to remove all amounts of pharmaceutical compounds from the sewage. Our water is a precious resource. Preventing compounds from entering sewers and the environment is a first step.

For proper disposal of outdated or unused medications:

  • Pour liquid medicines into a plastic sealable bag, for pills add a little water to dissolve them in the bag
  • Mix in used coffee grounds or used cat litter to make it unpalatable to pets or people
  • Seal the bag and dispose of it in the trash

For more information go to: http://www.epa.gov/ppcp/