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Guide to Pasadena Water Restrictions & Contaminants

*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

Water is our most precious resource, yet it’s seldom thought of with the expected necessity. With how abundant and accessible water has become from generation to generation, it’s easy to take it for granted. Yet living with limited access to fresh water is still a daily reality for people around the world.

Is Pasadena water safe to drink? While many in the Pasadena area may feel assured that unlimited clean water will always run from the taps, the reality of water security is a complex issue. In order to ensure the faucets keep flowing, the city of Pasadena has mandated a set of guidelines governing water use. The Pasadena water restrictions affect every residential spout in the city as the Department of Water and Power scrambles to keep up with demand.

Read on to learn about the specific regulations regarding public use of water, and how you might get more than you bargained for from the city’s unfiltered supply.

Why Did Pasadena Implement Water Usage Regulations?

Los Angeles, and southern California in general, is synonymous with sunny days and cloudless skies. The less acknowledged flipside of southern California’s climate, however, is its bone-dry precipitation levels and propensity for drought. Pasadena exemplifies this lack of rainfall, most glaringly during the summer. The driest month of the year is August, which experiences 0.2 days of rain on average.

That’s less than five hours total—in a month.

Needless to say, natural reservoirs are not replenished in sufficient supply to meet the city’s demands. The Raymond Basin is the main local source of the city’s water supply, and it’s fed by rainfall in the San Gabriel valley. With little precipitation in the surrounding mountains, the Raymond Basin fails to meet even half of Pasadena’s demand, requiring the city to import water from other municipalities.

Drought Levels in Pasadena

Infrequent precipitation and an unreliable supply of local water mean Pasadena is frequently in cycles of drought. The city has come up with a six-level gauge to assess the threat of drought at a given time:

  • No Drought Conditions
  • Abnormally Dry
  • Moderate Drought
  • Severe Drought (the current level declared in Pasadena)
  • Extreme Drought
  • Exceptional Drought

With multiple low-precipitation records set in 2022, over 90% of California has been in the same drought category this year.

The National Integrated Drought Information System, a governmental program that tracks droughts across multiple metrics, also deems Pasadena and the surrounding area to be in a state of severe drought.

With local and national systems painting a dry picture, it’s clear Pasadena is going through a drought-stricken period. Not wanting to push the needles further into extreme dryness, officials decided to limit the public’s use of water.

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What Are Pasadena’s Rules Regarding Water Usage?

Water conservation is crucial for Southern Californians of LA county and surrounding regions. In order to combat the ongoing shortage, the city of Pasadena has enacted a set of guidelines dictating who can use water and when. Below is a breakdown of the current rules governing which uses of water are permitted, restricted, and prohibited.

  • Personal use inside the home – There are currently no limitations in place on water usage in the home. The use of water for bathing, cooking, and other day-to-day personal purposes remains unrestricted as of now.
  • Watering grass and plants – Pasadena has implemented a once-a-week limit on the outdoor watering of exterior plants and grasses. If your address is even-numbered (ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8), you may water on Mondays. Odds (ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9) must do their watering on Tuesdays. All watering is to be done in the early morning prior to 9 am, or in the evening past 6 pm. Watering days are called off if a heavy rain has fallen within the prior 48 hours.1
  • Use of sprinklers and irrigation systems – There are no rules in place banning the use of sprinklers or other watering devices, so long as they’re used within your designated watering day and time. If you receive a notice from Pasadena Water and Power demanding a repair to your system, you have 48 hours to comply or face fines.1
  • Adding to ponds and water features – Filling up ornamental reservoirs is completely prohibited during Pasadena’s current water restrictions.1
  • Washing your car – The use of water to wash your vehicle remains legal. However, to comply with local ordinances, be sure to use either a bucket or a hose with a shut-off nozzle attached to the end.6
  • Hosing down outdoor surfaces – Spraying water for the purpose of cleaning off your driveway or sidewalk is not allowed.6
  • Creating runoff – Excessive runoff water from gardening or other purposes is considered waste and is strictly forbidden and punishable by fine.

Creating watering restrictions such as implementing a specific watering day or certain irrigation rules can create a significant difference in water waste during droughts. These regulations apply to every residential building in the city, so if you’re living in Pasadena, that probably includes you.1 However, like all good rules, there are always a few exceptions.

What Are The Exemptions to Pasadena’s Water Restrictions?

The rules regulating water usage in Pasadena (and similarly with West Covina water restrictions) apply almost fully across the board. That said, there are a few instances when one isn’t governed by the current regulations:

  • Hosing things down for sanitary purposes – In order to maintain the hygiene of an area, one may use a bucket, hose with an attached shut-off device, or high-pressure cleaning device to wash off outdoor surfaces such as pathways.6
  • Using a watering can or hose – Small watering cans and hoses with shut-off devices are exempt from Pasadena’s watering schedule.1
  • Maintaining key flora and fauna – To ensure the health of established trees, fruit-bearing plants, and foliage grown as fire protection, one may water them as needed. Likewise, topping up ornamental ponds is permitted so long as it’s to sustain the aquatic life living within them.1
  • Fixing your irrigation system – Sprinklers are restricted to your assigned watering days but, if there’s a leak in your system, you can turn them on for short periods of time to make repairs and adjustments.6

Dealing with the water shortage has no end in sight, so it’s helpful to understand your full rights when it comes to usage. Likewise, it’s beneficial to inform yourself about the quality of water flowing from Pasadena’s treatment facilities to your tap.

Contaminants in Pasadena’s Water Supply

Despite meeting Federal regulations, Pasadena’s water contains a long list of contaminants that may be prejudicial to your health. In total, the city’s supply contains 36 chemical contaminants, 17 of which are found in highly unhealthy quantities.7

Below is a small collection of some of the compounds floating around in Pasadena’s water. Keep in mind, this list only scratches the surface of what makes it past the city’s filtration system.

  • Arsenic – This hazardous chemical can be found in abundance in Pasadena’s water. Arsenic pumps through the city’s taps at 85x the healthy recommended level, according to a water review.7 Extended exposure to arsenic has been linked to cancer and the development of skin lesions.8
  • Chloroform – That’s right, the noxious chemical that slips people into instant unconsciousness in the movies might be coming out of your faucet at 4 times the healthy dosage.7 While you’re not going to pass out like in Hollywood, chloroform intake can be responsible for serious health issues.9
  • Dibromochloromethane – While perhaps not instantly recognizable like the other chemicals on this list, the mystery and convoluted name make it all the more concerning. Dibromochloromethane levels in Pasadena’s pipes are 1600% above where they should be.7 Exposure to the substance has been linked to deleterious health effects.10

Evidently, Pasadena is not only providing its residents water in short supply, but the quality it delivers is also in question. Many of the chemicals you’re drinking may have effects on your health. Even trees can have their growth inhibited by the high levels of toxins sprayed on them while watering.11

But what are Pasadenans to do? Water is the very lifeblood of existence and there’s no way to stop using it. Luckily, there are steps that you can take to ensure the city’s supply is safe for you, your family, and the environment.

Purify Your Home’s Water with a Filtration System from Rayne Water

Just because Pasadena’s treatment plants are pumping out chemical-laden water doesn’t mean you have to drink it as is. Rayne Water has been serving California’s water conditioning needs for almost a century. When it comes to dealing with contaminants, we are the experts you can trust.

Our water softeners can eliminate excess chlorine-based compounds that make your water smell and taste like a public pool. As a bonus, they can eradicate minerals that build up on surfaces and cause scaling—making cleaning your dishes, your skin, and your shower a breeze.

We also provide some of the most supremely refreshing reverse osmosis Los Angeles has to offer. Our systems can remove the chemical impurities plaguing your water supply. Aside from Pasadena, we can also help improve Burbank water quality.

You, your family, and your property deserve the crispest, cleanest water nature has to offer. Trust Rayne Water to help clean the contaminants from Pasadena’s supply and allow purity to flow from your taps.



  1. Pasadena Department of Water and Power. Watering Schedule.
  2. Climate Data. Climate Pasadena.
  3. Pasadena Water and Power. Where does our water come from?.
  4. Pasadena Water and Power. Drought Awareness – Do your part to save water.
  5. National Integrated Drought Information System. Conditions for Pasadena, CA. (Los Angeles County).
  7. Environmental Working Group. Pasadena.
  8. World Health Organization. Arsenic.
  9. Public Health England. Chloroform: General Information.
  10. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public Health Statement for Bromoform and Dibromochloromethane.
  11. Committee on Medical and Biological Effects of Environmental Pollutants. Arsenic: Medical and Biologic Effects of Environmental Pollutants.


Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher