Water Quality Report 2022

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities drinking water meets all water quality standards

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities operates three water treatment facilities drawing water from both the Yadkin River and Salem Lake. Together, these water treatment facilities can produce up to 91 million gallons of drinking water per day. The Neilson and Swann Water Treatment Plants can treat 48 and 25 million gallons per day, respectively, from the Yadkin River. The Thomas Water Treatment Plant can treat 18 million gallons per day from Salem Lake and the Yadkin River.

For 2022, as in previous years, these treatment facilities have met or surpassed all state and federal standards for drinking water quality. This accomplishment reflects the quality and dedication of the employees who work year-round to provide adequate supplies of safe drinking water.

This report includes details about the sources of your drinking water, how it is treated, what it contains and exactly how it compares to state and federal standards. We provide this updated information annually because we are committed to delivering top-quality drinking water to our customers.

Print version at 2022 Water Quality Report (PDF).

For translations, click Select Language button at bottom left.
Para traducciones, haga clic en Select Language en la parte inferior izquierda.

WaterSavvy-horizontal logo

In the fall of 2020, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities launched a water meter upgrade program called WaterSavvy. Thousands of new meters have already been installed and over the next few years we’ll upgrade all 130,000 residential and commercial meters in our service area.

Once the new system is activated, modern “smart” meters from our contractor Sensus will securely transmit usage information and alerts in real time. This will help us monitor flow, quickly detect leaks and reduce our visits to your home or business – all while keeping your data safe.

WaterSavvy also means better service! We’re creating a superior online customer portal where you can easily manage your bills, track your usage to conserve water and set up alerts for leaks. Best of all, there will be no charge on your bill for these improvements.

Modern meters, convenient access to information, better service – that’s WaterSavvy, smart with every drop.

Learn more and watch our video at cityofws.org/watersavvy.

Protecting Our Water Sources

Sources of both tap and bottled drinking water include rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material. Water can also pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.

Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

• Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife.

• Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can occur naturally or result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or wastewater discharges, oil and gas productions, mining or farming.

• Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff and residential uses.

• Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production and can come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff and septic systems.

• Radioactive contaminants which can occur naturally or as a result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the Environmental Protection Agency limits the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. Food and Drug Administration regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water, which must provide the same protection for public health.

Drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk. More information about contaminants and potential health effects can be obtained by calling the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

Neilson WTP aerial 2017R.W. Neilson Water Treatment Plant Modernization Project

In late 2021, construction began on a major project at Neilson Water Treatment Plant. It is the largest in the WSFC Utilities system with a treatment capacity of 48-million gallons per day (MGD). Since the original plant was built in 1964 the facility has undergone two capacity expansions of 12 MGD each in 1984 and 1988. This upgrade will address aging infrastructure by replacing  obsolete and failing equipment and make process improvements to increase the reliability and redundancy of this critical facility.

Neilson WTP modernization

North Carolina Source Water Assessment

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Public Water Supply (PWS) Section, Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) conducted assessments for all drinking water sources across North Carolina. The purpose of the assessments was to determine the susceptibility of each drinking water source (well or surface water intake) to Potential Contaminant Sources (PCSs). The results of the assessment are available in SWAP Assessment Reports that include maps, background information and a relative susceptibility rating of Higher, Moderate or Lower.

The relative susceptibility rating of each source for the City of Winston-Salem (PWSID 0234010) was determined by combining the contaminant rating (number and location of PCSs within the assessment area) and the inherent vulnerability rating (i.e., characteristics or existing conditions of the well or watershed and its delineated assessment area). The assessment findings are summarized in the table below:

Source Water Assessment Program Results Summary

Salem LakeModerateHigherHigher
Yadkin River (Idols Dam)HigherModerateHigher
Yadkin River (PW Swann Water Treatment Plant)HigherLowerModerate

Table 2 of SWAP Report for Winston-Salem

It is important to understand that a susceptibility rating of “higher” does not imply poor water quality, only the system’s potential to become contaminated by PCSs in the assessment area.

The complete SWAP Assessment report for the City of Winston-Salem may be viewed on the Web at: ncwater.org/?page=600. Please indicate your system name (Winston-Salem, City of) and number (0234010). 

Note that because SWAP results and reports are periodically updated by the PWS Section, the results available on this web site may differ from the results that were available at the time this report was prepared.

If you are unable to access your SWAP report on the web, you may mail a written request for a printed copy to:
Source Water Assessment Program - Report Request
1634 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1634
or email requests to swap@ncdenr.gov

Please indicate your system name (Winston-Salem, City of), number (0234010), and provide your name, mailing address and phone number. 

If you have any questions about the SWAP report please contact the Source Water Assessment staff by phone at 919-707-9098.

Water Quality

The following substances were detected in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities public water supply during the 2022 calendar year.

Regulated at the Treatment Plant

Fluoride ppm54.064.00.06 - 1.200.82Erosion of natural deposits; Water additive, promotes strong teeth
Orthophosphate, ppmN/A1.00.732 - 1.137110.910Water treatment additive to prevent pipe corrosion
Total Organic Carbon, ppmTreatment Technique7N/A0.895 - 1.9101.260Naturally present in the environment
Turbidity, NTU8Treatment Technique 9N/A0.020 - 0.2950.040Soil erosion

Regulated in the Distribution System

Total Trihalomethanes, ppb480 LRAA100.013.8 - 123.649.0Byproducts of drinking water disinfection
Total Haloacetic Acids (5), ppb60 LRAA100.0

13.9 - 57.4

31.9Byproducts of drinking water disinfection
Chlorine, ppm4.04.00.03 - 1.920.95Water treatment additive for disinfection
Total ColiformsLess than 5% positive0.0ND - 0.54%150.05%

Naturally present in the environment

Unregulated Substances at the Treatment Plant - Point of Entry14

Geosmin, ppt3Not RegulatedND - 8.714.21Byproduct of algae growth12
2-methylisoborneol, pptNot RegulatedND - 7.321.60Byproduct of algae growth12

Unregulated Substances at the Treatment Plant - Source Water14

Geosmin, pptNot RegulatedND - 8.053.52Byproduct of algae growth
2-methylisoborneol, pptNot RegulatedND - 16.205.24Byproduct of algae growth
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), pptNot Regulated13ND - 1.58
0.61These compounds are used in the manufacture of carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packing for foods and other materials. They are also used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware, fire fighting foams and a number of different manufacturing processes.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), pptNot Regulated13ND - 1.070.41These compounds are used in the manufacture of carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packing for foods and other materials. They are also used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware, fire fighting foams and a number of different manufacturing processes.


1 Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water.

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) - The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health.

3 ppt - One part per trillion. - (For example, one penny in $10,000,000,000.)

4 ppb - One part per billion. - (For example, one penny in $10,000,000.)

5 ppm - One part per million. - (For example, one penny in $10,000.)

6 The EPA’s maximum contaminant level for fluoride is 4.0 mg/L, however the State of North Carolina has established a maximum contaminant level of 2.0 mg/L.

7 Treatment technique - Treatment technique for total organic carbon was complied throughout 2021.

NTU - nephelometric turbidity unit, a measure of the cloudiness of water.

9 Treatment technique - 95% of the measurements taken in one month must be below 0.3 NTU. Turbidity treatment technique was complied with throughout 2022.

10 Locational running annual average - average of last four quarters of samples collected at each location at 12 monitoring sites.

11 A corrosion study was conducted that determined the ideal orthophosphate range for reducing lead and copper corrosion in our system was between 0.50 - 5.00 ppm. 

12 These compounds are created by algae in raw water that can cause an earthy/musty taste or odor in drinking water. While some people may find this unpleasant, there are no known negative health impacts associated with their consumption. 

13 EPA Health Advisory Levels: PFOS 0.02 ppt and PFOA 0.004 ppt. Our water supply has no history of high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In anticipation of future EPA requirements, we began proactive sampling of treated drinking water at all water plants in August of 2022 and PFAS were not detected.

14 Unregulated substances are those for which the EPA has not established drinking water standards. The purpose of unregulated contaminant monitoring is to assist the EPA in determining its occurrence in drinking water and whether future regulation is warranted.

15 1 positive TC sample in July 2022 out of 185 samples

ND = not detected

Physical & Mineral Characteristics - Calendar Year 2022

Alkalinity, ppm10.5 - 30.522.3
Calcium, ppm2.8 - 5.13.7
Carbon Dioxide, ppm
1.5 - 15.03.6
Chlorine, ppm
0.72 - 2.111.45
Conductivity, micromhos/cm
87.1 - 134.1105.1
Hardness, ppm
12.0 - 32.019.2
Magnesium, ppm1.4 - 2.41.9
pH, Standard Units
6.9 - 8.17.5
Phosphate, ppm
0.77 - 1.290.97
Potassium, ppm1.5 -3.52.3
Silica, ppm3.67 - 15.708.92
Sodium, ppm8.5 - 19.412.2
Temperature, Deg. C3.0 - 30.018.1

 ND = not detected

Cryptosporidium sp.
This is a microscopic organism that, when ingested, can cause diarrhea, fever and other gastrointestinal symptoms. The organism occurs naturally in surface waters (lakes & streams) and comes from animal waste. Cryptosporidium sp. is eliminated by an effective treatment combination of coagulation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection.

We have completed two rounds of 24-month sampling at all of our water sources and have not detected any cryptosporidium. In addition, Cryptosporidium sp. has never been detected in our treated drinking water.

Special Concerns
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. People whose immune systems have been compromised – such as people undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly and infants – can be particularly at risk for infections.

These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control guidelines on appropriate means to lessen risk of infection by Cryptosporidium sp. and other microbiological contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.

En Español
Si desea recibir una copia de este reporte en Español o si tiene preguntas con respecto a la calidad del agua que consume, por favor comuniquese con el departamento the servicios públicos durante las horas de trabajo, el teléfono es 336-727-8000 o visite cityofws.org/wqr2022. Para obtener más traducciones que no estén en inglés, haga clic en el botón Select Language en la parte inferior izquierda.

Lead Exposure from Water

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities is responsible for providing high quality drinking water and removing lead pipes, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components in your home. You share the responsibility for protecting yourself and your family from the lead in your home plumbing. You can take responsibility by identifying and removing lead materials within your home plumbing and taking steps to reduce your family’s risk.

Before drinking tap water, flush your pipes for several minutes by running your tap, taking a shower, doing laundry or a load of dishes. You can also use a filter certified by an American National Standards Institute accredited certifier to reduce lead in drinking water.

If you are concerned about lead in your water and wish to have your water tested, contact Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities at 336-727-8000 or citylink@cityofws.org. Information

Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Regulated at the Consumers Tap - 2022 Compliance Samples                                                

Lead, ppb315.0 (action level4)0.0521<3.0
Copper, ppb1300.0 (action level)1300.0520<50.0

Unregulated at the Consumers Tap - 2022 Customer Samples                                                       

Lead, ppb15.0 (action level)0.060<3.0
Copper, ppb1300.0 (action level)1300.060<50.0

Source (both lead and copper): Corrosion of household plumbing; erosion of natural deposits


1 Action Level - The concentration of a contaminant that triggers treatment or other requirement that a water system must follow. Action levels are reported as the 90th percentile, which is the concentration that 90 percent of the locations sampled falls below. Compliance sampling is required every three years. In 2022, our 90th percentile values were lead <3.0 and copper 0.5 ppb. 

2 Ideal Goal - The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health.

3 ppb - One part per billion. - (For example, one penny in $10,000,000.)

ND= not detected

Lead Compliance Program

For more than 20 years, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities has met or surpassed all federal water quality standards. This includes testing for lead to ensure our water is safe to drink. We are happy to report that our water distribution system remains in full compliance with the EPA’s current regulations. 

However, lead water pipes may still be found in our system, particularly on private property with older homes and businesses. Because of health hazards associated with lead pipes, the EPA recently directed all public utilities in the United States to inventory service line pipes extending from our water main all the way to each customer’s home or business.

Visit cityofws.org/pipes for more information and complete our online Water Service Line Inventory with easy-to-follow instructions to identify your service line material. You will be able to report your findings and follow the steps provided if you discover lead or potential lead.

Your safety is our number-one priority and this inventory is just one aspect of our Lead Compliance Program. The program includes other activities the EPA is requiring of all utilities to ensure there is no lead in water supplies throughout the nation.

For more information, visit cityofws.org/pipes and check out our FAQs. If you have questions, contact City Link at 336-727-8000 or use any method at cityofws.org/citylink.
Standard water service line diagram

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities is governed by the WSFC Utility Commission, which meets on the second Monday of each month. Meeting details at cityofws.org/utilitycommission. For questions about this report or the quality of our drinking water, call City Link 311 or 336-727-8000.

L. Wesley Curtis, Jr., Chair
Chris Parker, Vice Chair
Simpson O. Brown
Harold Eustache
Tom Griffin
Yvonne H. Hines
Hugh W. Jernigan
Duane Long
Calvin McRae
Charles Wilson
Allan Younger

Mayor: Allen Joines
Denise D. Adams, Mayor Pro Tempore, North Ward
Barbara Hanes Burke, Northeast Ward
Robert C. Clark, West Ward
John C. Larson, South Ward
Jeff MacIntosh, Northwest Ward
Kevin Mundy, Southwest Ward
Annette Scippio, East Ward
James Taylor, Jr., Southeast Ward
City Manager: Lee D. Garrity

Don Martin, Chair
Gloria D. Whisenhunt, Vice Chair
Dan Besse
Richard V. Linville
Tonya D. McDaniel
David R. Plyler
Malashai Woodbury
County Manager: Dudley Watts, Jr.

Produced by Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities
P.O. Box 2511
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27102
City Link 311 or 336-727-8000

PWSID 0234010

Copies of this report are available at 2022 Water Quality Report (PDF).
For translations, click Select Language button at bottom left.

WSFC Utilities logo - 2019