Previously Asked Questions
Previous Ask EMWD! Questions and Answers that have been featured in our monthly eConnect.
How do backflow prevention devices help with water quality?
EMWD works diligently to deliver safe and reliable drinking water, an effort that begins with protecting our water supply sources—such as groundwater wells—and continues through the entire treatment and distribution process until the water reaches the meter. However, some hazardous conditions may exist on customer properties, which can risk our safe drinking water supply.
Water systems are designed to have higher pressure than customers’ property to keep water flowing in the right direction. When there is a drop in water main pressure, a reverse flow—or backflow—can occur. Backflow can happen if there is a water main break or if there is significant changes in water pressure.
While single-family residences are not generally required to have a backflow device, you can help prevent backflow contamination by never leaving a hose submerged in unsafe water such as fertilizer or cleaning solution; making sure irrigation has an anti-siphon valve; and checking hose bibs for a vacuum breaker (most new homes are equipped with anti-siphon faucets). You can learn more about water quality and backflow prevention by visiting our website at emwd.org/backflow.
How do I sign-up for paperless billing?
Paperless billing with eBill is an easy and convenient way to access and store your monthly billing statements. View your bill from any location, any time of day, from your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer. Follow the simple steps below to activate eBill and start paperless billing:
1. Login at myaccount.emwd.org
If you haven’t created a MyAccount login you can activate your service anytime by browsing to myaccount.emwd.org and selecting Register Now.
What conservation programs and rebates are available for customers?
This is the year to give your landscaping an update to reduce outdoor water use, save money and gain beautiful landscaping!
EMWD’s Landscape for Living program is here to help you get started. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! Hundreds of customers have already received free landscaping evaluation, equipment and installation assistance.
From free weather-based irrigation controllers and high efficiency sprinkler nozzles to landscape evaluations and $3 per square foot turf replacement rebates—we have something for everyone.
All EMWD residential customers with irrigated landscapes—areas in front and backyards currently being watered—are eligible to receive services and rebates though the Landscapes for Living program.
Learn more about Landscapes for Living and get started, visit LandscapesforLiving.emwd.org.
I see water storage tanks on hillsides throughout the community. What purpose do those serve?
EMWD has nearly 80 storage tanks throughout its service area, but did you know their main role is different than most people expect?
These tanks – which hold millions of gallons of water apiece – are often nestled into hillsides and painted to blend in with their surroundings. They are placed on hills at specifically designed elevations to pressurize our water system, allowing you to receive the right amount of water pressure delivered to your home or business.
This is the same reason why many water tanks in flat areas, such as the Midwest, are built on stilts – so there is enough gravity to create the pressure needed for water delivery and use.
So the next time you pass by a hill and manage to spot one of our tanks high above your community, you can be sure its doing its job by helping to keep our system running as it should.
Submit your question at emwd.org/AskEMWD for a chance to have it featured in a future monthly EMWD newsletter!
Can my HOA fine me for not watering my lawn during the drought?
During California’s previous drought, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted regulations stating that Homeowners Associations (HOA) could not issue fines during a state or regional drought emergency, and those rules remain in place.
HOA’s are also not able to prohibit you from installing drought tolerant landscaping as a way to save water, and also may not require homeowners to pressure wash their homes or hardscapes during a drought.
HOA’s can issue citations if your landscape is unkept, so while you can let your lawn go brown, it is important to keep the property free of weeds and well maintained.
EMWD is working with HOA’s throughout its service area to ensure they are partners in water use efficiency as we all do our part during this historic drought.
How do I qualify for EMWD’s water use efficiency rebates and services?
All EMWD residential customers with irrigated landscapes — areas in front and backyards currently being watered — are eligible to receive services and rebates.
EMWD will guide you through the rebate process, install equipment for FREE and help you save money and water!
There are multiple ways to participate, whether it’s a free landscape evaluation service, a free weather-based irrigation controller, or free high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles. You can choose one or all options to design front and backyards perfect for you.
Visit our Landscapes for Living website at landscapesforliving.emwd.org.
How do I enroll in the turf replacement program?
Removing turf grass is one of the most water saving adjustments a homeowner can make to reduce their water usage and associated costs.
EMWD customers are eligible for a rebate of $3.00 per square foot up to 5,000 square feet through The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) Turf Replacement program—$2.00 from MWD and an additional $1.00 from EMWD.
The program is a two-part application process. In order to receive a rebate, you must first apply to reserve rebate funds prior to starting your project. After the reservation, you will have 180 days to complete the project and submit your request for a rebate.
Items to have ready before applying: 1) A copy of your recent water bill, 2) At least five color photos of the area where you plan to remove turf, 3) A simple landscape plan that shows the area to be transformed and location of your stormwater retention feature, i.e. rain garden, rain barrel, etc.
Please note, approval of rebate applications are on a first-come, first-serve basis and subject to funding availability. Submitting a reservation request or application does not guarantee approval or payment.
Help offset the costs of removing and replacing your front or backyard lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping by visiting www.emwd.org/socal-watersmart.
Why are new homes being built when California is experiencing such a serious drought?
EMWD is not a land use agency. Our responsibility is to supply water to developments approved per County and City general plans. In recent years, regulations were expanded to require new construction to have more efficient plumbing and landscaping. EMWD makes sure these standards are met by allocating water budgets that are up to 30 percent lower than older homes and businesses.
New developments also pay a Financial Participation Charge (FPC) to fund development of new water supply sources to meet their own needs. Infrastructure expansion projects such as our new Perris II Desalination complex are funded in-part by FPC’s.
By creating new local water supply sources, new development is not “taking” from existing homes and businesses but helping to expand our local supplies and reduce our reliance on imported water.
Learn more at emwd.org/frequently-asked-questions.
Q: I want to get rid of my grass lawn. Where do I begin?
This is a great question, and a great way to save water!
EMWD customers can receive up to $3 per square foot through rebate programs through SoCalWaterSmart.com. Customers should apply for the program before removing their grass.
From there, EMWD’s Landscapes for Living link on www.emwd.org has a variety of tools available to help you create a beautiful, water-saving landscape at your home!
Q: What are schools and parks doing to help save water?
A: Schools and parks across EMWD’s service area are among the most forward-thinking when it comes to being efficient water users.
EMWD has worked with both schools and public parks so that many of those facilities are using recycled water to irrigate their fields. This reduces their demands on our drinking water supplies and also provides significant cost savings for them.
Approximately 35 percent of EMWD’s overall water supply is met through recycled water. EMWD currently has 27 schools and 76 parks in its service area using recycled water. Recycled water is also not subject to the same restrictions during the drought as potable water, so these facilities can remain green so our families have a place to recreate.
Q: How Much Does a Gallon of Water Cost from EMWD?
A: Savvy the Water Drop doesn’t need to break out her abacus to know that EMWD tap water is a great value for our customers.
Based on Tier 1 pricing, one billing unit — which is 748 gallons — is $1.14 cents in most areas served by EMWD. That means a single gallon comes out to approximately $0.0015, or about six gallons per penny!
EMWD tap water remains an excellent value, especially compared to other things like the cost of gas or even bottled water, which is the item with the highest markup at grocery stores.
So the next time you are looking to save money, be sure to enjoy a glass of safe and reliable tap water from EMWD!
Q: Does EMWD test for PFAS?
A: Yes, PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkytl Substances) are among the more than 155 contaminants and impurities that EMWD tests for in its water supplies.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are chemicals that are resistant to heat, water and oil and have been used for decades in hundreds of consumer products and industrial applications. As a result, these chemicals are often found in the environment.
Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, many products that contain the chemicals still exist, such as cosmetics, food packaging, clothing and furniture fabrics. In addition, other countries still make products containing these chemicals, which may be imported into the United States.
EMWD’s state-certified labratory conducts more than 45,000 water quality tests each year to ensure that we are delivering a safe drinking water supply to your home and businesses. This includes testing for PFAS.
To learn more about EMWD’s water quality, check out our most recent Consumer Confidence Report here.
Q: Why is it important to not put fats, oils and grease down the drain?
A: Avoiding putting fats, oils and grease (FOG) down the drain can make a major difference in helping to protect your sewer system.
When FOG is poured down the drain, it hardens and can block sewer lines on your property or in the main sewer system. This can cause sewer lines to break or cause backups in the sewer system, which can overflow.
EMWD encourages you to safely dispose of FOG to do your part to be Sewer Smart. This can be done by placing it in a jar or piece of tin foil and then throwing it in the trash.
EMWD appreciates your help in keeping your sewer system healthy!
Q: Is it okay to guide rainwater to a water saving device and use it for landscape irrigation?
A: Not only is it acceptable, it is encouraged!
Rain barrels are a great way to collect water from your gutters and use it to help water your plants at a later time. In fact, there are rebate programs to help you pay for rain barrels or cisterns.
To learn more about the rebates available for rain barrels, please visit www.socalwatersmart.com. You may also learn about other rebate programs available through EMWD at our Landscapes for Living page.
Q: I received an advertisement for water line insurance. Is this something I need?
A: EMWD is aware that for-profit companies are sending solicitations for water line insurance. Often times, these advertisements are designed to look like they came from a water utility. These companies are not affiliated with EMWD in any capacity.
EMWD strongly encourages customers to do their due diligence on these companies. Many times, existing homeowners insurance policies will provide coverage if a water line breaks on the customers’ side of the meter.
At EMWD, our recommendation is for homeowners to do their research on a company’s business practices to determine what they feel is best for them.
Q: What are those EMWD mascots that are on the eConnect every month?
A: EMWD has two mascots: Savvy the Water Drop and Patrick the Poo.
The two characters are from EMWD’s award-winning series of classroom education books and Sewer Smart video series, and help both children and adults learn about water, wastewater and recycled water issues.
Patrick the Poo has been featured prominently in a series of videos on EMWD’s social media platforms to help customers learn how they can protect our sewer system by being Sewer Smart. Savvy the Water Drop helps teach about your water supply and how to be efficient.
EMWD is proud of its industry-leading education program and finding new and creative way to engage audiences of all ages, including through the use of Savvy and Patrick!
Q: Can I convert my current irrigation system to use recycled water?
A: EMWD is a leading advocate for the use of recycled water, and it is exciting that our customers also embrace those community benefits.
Because of state regulations that require annual testing of recycled water systems to ensure public safety, it would be very challenging to have thousands of residential homes requiring those tests every year. Additionally, a secondary distribution system would have to be constructed to deliver recycled water to residential properties.
Because of the cost and permitting challenges associated with this, recycled water is typically used by large landscape customers such as agriculture, schools, parks and other public landscaping. Those customers combine to use 100 percent of EMWD’s available recycled water supply during normal years.
As our service area continues to grow, EMWD will keep looking for ways to use all of its available recycled water supply in the most cost-effective manner while also ensuring it meets the required regulations.
Q: What is EMWD doing to ensure our water is safe and clean?
A: Ensuring you have a safe and clean water supply is a top priority at EMWD.
Each year, EMWD conducts more than 45,000 water quality tests, which tests for more than 155 contaminants and impurities. EMWD conducts these tests on a daily basis at its state-certified laboratory.
EMWD also invests in state-of-the-art treatment processes to help clean your drinking water before it enters our distribution system to be delivered to your home or business.
You can learn more about your drinking water quality by viewing our annual Consumer Confidence Report by clicking here.
Q: Is the funding for redoing landscaping to be more water efficient available?
EMWD customers are eligible to receive funding to help offset the costs of removing grass from their front or rear lawns and replacing it with drought-tolerant landscaping. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is currently offering $2 per square foot and EMWD customers are eligible for an additional $1 per square foot.
Customers may visit EMWD’s Landscapes for Living to view available rebate programs, sample landscape plans, and find a licensed contractor that has completed a specialized training program through EMWD.
Q: Is my sewer charge based on water usage?
A: EMWD sewer service charges are based on the number of people living in the household to be more representative of the amount of water contributed to the sewer system.
Block sewer rates are designed to be more fair and equitable to customers and are revenue-neutral to EMWD.
Customers in smaller households (1-2 people) pay 60-percent of the standard rate. Households with 3-4 people pay the standard rate; those with 5-6 people pay 125-percent of the standard rate; and households with 7 or more residents pay 170-percent of the standard rate.
Customers may learn more about their wastewater charges by visiting EMWD’s website
Q: Is Recycled Water being used to replenish EMWD’s groundwater wells?
A: While EMWD does not currently use recycled water to replenish its local groundwater basins, it is currently designing an advanced water purification facility to be able to implement this technology soon. Purified Water Replenishment would start with recycled water and purify it using a multi-stage process of microfiltration and reverse osmosis.
The purified water could then be blended with additional treated water before being pumped into replenishment basins, where it would go through a natural purification process, which takes at least six months to filter through the ground. The water pumped would then go through one final cleaning step before it would be sent to homes and businesses.
The first phase of this proposed program would provide enough groundwater replenishment to serve up to 10,000 homes annually.
To learn more about EMWD’s proposed program, please visit our Groundwater Reliability Plus page on our website.
Q: What has EMWD done to ensure that water to our taps will continue to flow in the event of a failure of the grid?
A: EMWD is prepared to meet the needs of our customers in the event of both planned and unplanned outages of the power grid, including a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).
In the event of a PSPS or other emergency within the service area, EMWD has backup generators installed at critical locations and additional units available to power the essential equipment needed to continue delivering high quality water service and reliable wastewater service to customers as well as fire response personnel if needed.
For more information, please click here.
Q: Does EMWD offer assistance programs to help with my bill?
A: Yes. EMWD offers payment assistance programs for customers who may be facing financial difficulties with paying their water bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Governor’s Executive Order currently prohibits shutoffs for non-payment, once that order is lifted, many customers with significant balances due may be at risk of shutoff. To help customers manage outstanding balances, EMWD offers a range of programs to assist customers in becoming current on their bills including:
- Get $100 Credit with EMWD’s Help2Others Program: EMWD has partnered with the United Way of the Inland Valleys to provide financial assistance to qualified, low-income customers. Funding for the program is limited and eligibility information may be found at www.emwd.org/help2others.
- Payment Extensions: Customers may schedule a payment extension using EMWD’s My Account portal at myaccount.emwd.org.
- Payment Arrangements: Short- and long-term payment arrangements may be made to pay off a past-due balance.
- Level Payment Program: This program allows qualified customers to pay EMWD bills in equal monthly payments, based on historical usage.
- EMWD’s Water Budget Based Rate Structure: EMWD’s rate structure is designed to provide the lowest rates to customers who remain within their water budget.
Additional resources through the County of Riverside and local cities may be available. Please click here for more information.
Q: What rebates are available for converting to California-friendly landscaping?
A: EMWD has partnered with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) to offer customers a variety of programs and rebates to maximize their water use efficiency. Some of the available rebates to help residents convert to California-friendly landscaping include a turf replacement program and rebates on: rotating sprinkler nozzles, rain barrels and cisterns, weather-based irrigation controller, soil moisture sensor system, and so much more. To learn more about the rebates offered through the partnership between MWD and EMWD, visit socalwatersmart.com. EMWD also offers residential customers tools such as FREE deep drip watering stakes, which are designed to help maintain beautiful trees by watering them directly at the root zone. To learn how to get yours, click here.
Q: Tap water – is it safe to drink?
A: Yes! EMWD takes pride in its water quality and reliability, maintaining investments in state-of-the-art treatment facilities and utilizing modern testing practices to ensure your water is safe to drink. It is a commitment that is at the forefront of our mission as an organization. Our team completes nearly 50,000 tests a year, ensuring that all the water EMWD provides to the community meets or exceeds state and federal regulations. In addition to our state-certified lab, EMWD has two water filtration plants that treat imported water using an advanced method called ultrafiltration. EMWD also has two desalination plants that treat local, salty water using reverse osmosis technology. Our team works 24/7/365 to ensure our infrastructure is in top shape so that you always have a water supply that you can depend on when you turn on the tap. EMWD’s water quality is outlined every year in a Consumer Confidence Report; you can find that by clicking here. You can learn more about your tap water by watching the video below!
Q: What is the source of the salty water used at the Menifee Desalination Plant?
A: EMWD’s Desalination Complex treats local brackish (salty) groundwater. This local water supply, found below the Perris and Menifee areas, is salty due to natural soil conditions and historical agricultural use. That water is then pumped out of the ground using 12 different wells and a network of pipelines where it is sent to the Desalination Complex for treatment. The Desalination Complex uses reverse osmosis to remove the salt from the water before sending it out to the community. Without the Desalination Complex, EMWD would not be able to treat what is otherwise an undrinkable local water supply. You can learn more about EMWD’s Desalination Program by watching the video below!