Water Services

What We Do

24-hour water emergency hotline: 209-342-2246

Water Services maintains the water distribution system, monitors and maintains water wells and tanks, and performs testing of the municipal water supply. Water Services is also responsible for the installation, maintenance and reading of water meters as well as the Water Conservation and Backflow-Cross Connection programs. Each year Water Services publishes and distributes the Consumer Confidence Report to all billed customers of the Modesto regional water system.

Customer Notifications


Surface Water Delivery Decrease and Water Conservation Target

The City of Modesto surface water allocation deliveries from the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) have decreased over the last couple of years from an average of 30 million gallons per day to at the lowest a delivery of 11.6 million gallons per day due to the ongoing drought.  Because we have had near average rainfall and a better snow pack in the last hydrologic cycle, the MID has now allotted a delivery of approximately 25.7 million gallons per day effective May 2016, This allotment remains in effect through April 30, 2017 at which time the MID will re-evaluate and may readjust the delivery amounts. 

Twenty years ago, the City of Modesto invested in the surface water treatment plant and that along with increased water conservation efforts has resulted in less groundwater being withdrawn each year from the aquifer. As a result, the Modesto sub basin has not suffered overdraft and this water bank is available for use now when we need it the most.

On May 9, 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued Executive Order B-37-16 requiring the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to adjust its emergency water conservation regulation through the end of January 2017 in recognition of the differing water supply conditions across the state.  The SWRCB is requiring cities in California to take action, making some of the regulatory conservation requirements permanent.  The revised regulation was adopted by the SWRCB on May 18, 2016.  On June 21, 2016, the City of Modesto submitted projections and calculations to the SWRCB requiring an enforceable minimum conservation standard of 20% reduction versus 2013.  To ensure that we meet the 20% requirement, the new City of Modesto conservation target will be 25% through January 2017.  The previous conservation mandate was 33%.  The City believes that without any changes to the current water conservations restrictions and with the continued cooperation of the community, the new 25% reduction target will be achieved.

To view Executive Order B-37-16 go to: https://www.gov.ca.gov/docs/5.9.16_Executive_Order.pdf 


Since the 1870's a clean and dependable water supply for the community of Modesto has been a key factor in the success and quality of life for citizens and businesses alike. Water became critical in fighting the big fires of 1881 and 1884 and prevented many parts of downtown from being destroyed.

At the time of the fires, water was supplied to the city by the “Modesto Water Company”, owned by Stimpson P. Rodgers. The water company had bored an artesian well, built a two-story building and installed an engine and water pump. The water was forced to the top of the building into two large wooden tanks, each having a capacity of 5,000 gallons. The fire of 1884 showed conclusively the need of better fire protection and in January, 1890, the water company began laying down pipes for hydrant purposes. The pipes, laid out in the shape of the letter H, ran along H Street to Tenth and along I Street They were connected with the water works by a six-inch pipe running north and south through an alley. Seven hydrants were set in the most essential places.

The price of water to families at the time was $1.50 per month with extra charged for irrigation. The water company began to increase prices and the people of Modesto were dissatisfied and began to complain which led to a city council action in 1891 in which the City issued bonds in the amount of $60,000 to purchase the water works. In 1893, the City established its own waterworks and water rates were set. The City purchased a lot on Tenth Street south of G Street, erected a pumping station, built a large concrete cistern forty feet in depth, and sank an artesian well through the floor. Water was pumped 100 feet up into a large iron tank and from there was distributed to patrons. There were also six reserve tanks located in different parts of the city. In case of fire, the water was pumped directly into the main, providing 180 pounds of pressure on the fire hose.