Water is a limited resource. Although nearly 80 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, less than one percent of that water is fresh. Even fresh water must be treated or purified before it can be consumed. The clean water you consume is produced and delivered by your water utility company in a three-step process: source, treatment and distribution. Your utility bears the costs of this process, and then passes those costs along to ratepayers like you.
Some utilities obtain their water supply from surface sources, such as lakes or rivers, while others acquire water from groundwater sources or aquifers (underground rock, clay and sand formations that store water). Without proper caution, these water sources can become polluted.
In its natural state, water is odorless, tasteless and colorless and can be unsafe for human consumption. Untreated water may contain naturally occurring inorganic material, as well as manmade contaminants such as pesticides, bacteria and other pollutants that may be harmful to your health. Your water utility must clean and disinfect the water it uses to remove these impurities. Federal and state government agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, enforce requirements regarding the production of drinking water. For your safety, water utilities are required to perform numerous tests on the water they use and meet stringent treatment requirements before they can distribute it to customers.
Your water utility delivers water from the treatment plant to your home through large pipes called mains. Water mains, which may extend for miles, feed the smaller pipes that carry water into your home. Valves control the flow and direction of water, and meters measure the volume of water you consume.
The role of the PUCO
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) regulates the rates and policies of privately held, investor-owned water utilities doing business in the state of Ohio. If your water is supplied by one of these utilities, the PUCO will assure that safe drinking water is delivered to your home at a reasonable rate.