The City of Iowa City Water Division 

Iowa City has been producing and distributing potable water since 1882 and serves customers in Iowa City, University Heights, and the surrounding area.  The municipal water treatment facility is located at 80 Stephen Atkins Drive.

For general inquiries or meter appointments, please call 319-356-5160.
For water emergencies, please call 319-356-5166.
For billing-related questions, please call 319-356-5066 or visit the Revenue Division.

Water Treatment and Quality

The Iowa City Water Treatment plant uses several unit processes to produce Iowa City’s drinking water.  The unit processes together are known as our “treatment train”.  In order, the processes are – source water is pumped from the alluvial aquifer (Iowa River through the sandy riverbed) to an aeration tank, then clarification and softening, recarbonation, filtration through granular activated carbon, and disinfection.  The treated water is then distributed to customers via the network of pipes, pumps, and tanks known as the water distribution system. 

Deep wells in the Silurian or Jordan aquifer are used for nitrate dilution and the Iowa River is used directly when the alluvial aquifer production is poor.  The water softening process is lime-softening and removes most water hardness.  Some customers chose to use in-home water softeners for zero hardness water.

Watch a video about the water plant's purification process.

Water quality reports are provided annually to the public via the Consumer Confidence Report.  For customers needing information for a specific parameter not covered in the Consumer Confidence Report, contact us at 319-356-5160.

Water Service Lines

A water service line is the pipe connecting a customer to the public water main.  The entirety of the water service line is owned by and the responsibility of the customer.

View the water service line diagram to see common parts that make up a water service line and what they are called.

When a problem occurs on a service line, the Water Division, if requested, may provide the property owner with guidance in determining the cause of the problem and an appropriate course of action to remedy the situation.  The customer will need to contract with a plumber or excavator to make the repairs

Water service line leaks are expected to be repaired within 72 hours of notification.

An important part of the water service line is the service stop box.  These are the circular metal caps most customers have in their front yard.  A stop box is a metal tube extending down to a curb stop or water shut-off valve on the service line (diagram).  These allow the water utility to shut off water to the building as needed.  Maintaining access to stop boxes is the responsibility of the customer.

Iowa City Water Division personnel operate stop boxes to turn the water on or to turn the water off when:

  • A customer needs to complete internal plumbing repairs
  • A service leak becomes hazardous
  • A customer fails to pay their utility bill

A stop box must be repaired when:

  • The stop is too high or too low; the top should be level with the ground
  • The stop box is located under concrete or asphalt and is not accessible
  • The curb stop valve does not operate
  • The housing becomes bent and a key cannot be lowered onto the valve to operate
  • The rod is loose and does not connect to the curb stop valve

Water meters

The water meter is owned by the City. It is usually located in the basement or utility room. Property owners are responsible for protecting their meter from freezing temperatures and providing access to the meter and meter reading system.

If you have a high-water bill and do not know why, call the Water Division at 319-356-5160 for assistance. In many cases, high water usage is caused by a leaking faucet, malfunctioning water softener, furnace humidifier, ice maker, or leaking toilet. If the property owner cannot find the cause, a representative can come to your home and assist you.

Metered water is used to calculate water and sanitary sewer fees.  Some customers with swimming pools or large lawns / gardens traditionally use a higher volume of water in the summer.  The water used for some seasonal activities does not enter the sewer system.  Therefore, a customer may be interested an additional meter for water only known as a single-purpose meter or irrigation meter to avoid sewerage charges.

If large amounts of water are used to water lawns or gardens on an annual basis, the installation of a permanent single purpose meter may be requested.  Customers who wish to install a permanent single-purpose water meter are responsible for all expenses associated with its installation.

Customers who need extra water for a short period of time may prefer a portable water meter kit. The kit records the amount of water used and the sewer charges are then deducted from the next month’s utility bill.

To rent a portable kit, stop by the Iowa City Water Treatment Facility at 80 Stephen Atkins Drive between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Kits may be rented April 1 through October 1, weather and availability permitting. Payment may be made by check or exact cash amount and is due at the time of application. Units not returned by the rental deadline, or damaged, will result in charges for the cost of replacing or repairing the meter.

Contaminant Information

Drinking water is regulated by Federal, State, and Local laws and policies.

Emerging contaminants without regulation and known health hazards do occur and health advisories are provided.  Currently there are health advisories for cyanotoxins, manganese, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

A non-profit known as the Environmental Working Group also provides good resources for public education on water quality and emerging contaminants.

Lead contamination of drinking water

Lead is a common metal found throughout the lived environment in lead-based paint, air, soil, household dust, food, certain types of pottery, porcelain, pewter, plumbing fixtures, and water. Lead builds up in the body over years and can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys.

Lead enters drinking water primarily from corrosion of materials containing lead. Materials containing lead may be found in a customer’s service line or plumbing.  These include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome-plated brass faucets, and lead pipes.

Water Operations staff measure and calculate water stability factors daily.  These factors are maintained to ensure the system has stable, non-corrosive water to reduce the risk of lead exposure from household plumbing and leaded service line materials

The Iowa City Water Division has compiled a FAQ sheet of actions that can be taken to minimize lead exposure through drinking water, as well as other general facts.

To view the Water Division’s best knowledge on if your property has a lead or lead containing private service line, please visit: 

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

In November 2021, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) sampled Iowa City's drinking water as part of the State's PFAS action plan. PFAS refers to the family of chemicals known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a health advisory level associated with two PFAS - Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) - at a combined concentration of 70 ppt (parts per trillion). The results of Iowa City's PFAS samples found no detectable PFOA or PFOS.

The analysis tested for 25 other PFAS chemicals. One, Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), was detectable in Iowa City drinking water at 3 ppt. To imagine one part-per-trillion, picture enough salt to stick to the tip of your pinky finger dissolved in an Olympic swimming pool.

"Our results are very low and not unexpected," said Jonathan Durst, Water Superintendent. "The City will continue to work with the Iowa DNR to monitor PFAS and conduct additional on-site testing. We are committed to providing the highest quality drinking water to our community."

The entire Iowa DNR report on Iowa City's drinking water can be found online.

Original press release 12/28/2021


The U.S. EPA life-time exposure health advisory level for Manganese in drinking water is 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L).  The City self-monitors for Manganese in drinking water.  Routine sampling results are less than or equal to 0.02 mg/L, well under the health advisory level.

Contractor and Engineering Resources


City of Iowa City Water Division Schedule of Fees, Deposits, and Charges.

Standards and specifications

Work completed on any part of the Iowa City water distribution system must meet minimum standards as set out in the most current versions of City of Iowa City Code, Interim Iowa City Municipal Design Standards, city approved specifications, and Water Division policy and procedures. Only materials approved by the Iowa City Water Division may be used in the Iowa City water distribution system, including all attached private water services.

Forms and applications

The Water Division is working towards providing all external Water Division related forms and applications online for easy access by its customers. If there are any questions about what form is needed or how to fill out a form, contact the Water Division at 319-356-5160.