​Water Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my water smell?

The water supply for Moscow comes from wells that are drilled in basalt which often contain sulfates. The sulfates are often converted to hydrogen sulfide in hot water heaters or other places where water may sit before it is used. This conversion is done by a harmless bacteria referred to as "sulfur reducing" bacteria and the side effect is the rotten egg smell. Even though the Water Division of the Moscow Public Works Department uses chlorine for disinfection the rotten egg odor can occur in low use areas where the chlorine has dissipated.

Why is my water yellow?

The water supply for Moscow comes from wells that are drilled in basalt which normally contains iron and manganese. The iron and manganese can accumulate on the inside of customer or City pipes and when water use is high comes off the pipe and makes the water yellow. We recommend that you wait for the water to clear before drinking or using for laundry. Experience has indicated the water is safe to drink after it clears but if you are concerned please call us at 208.882.3122.

Where is my meter located?

Typically your water meter will be near a property line adjacent to the street. If you do not know where your meter is and would like to know please contact the Water Division.

My water bill is high compared to last month and we have not done anything different. Where did the water go?

The most common cause is a leak. Please check the commodes in your home or business to confirm that they are shutting off. Dye tables are available for free in the Water Division Office that can be used to check for a leaky commode. Also check the faucets in the home and look outside between the meter and the house for wet spots. If no apparent leaks or other issues are found just give us a call.

What do I do if I have a water emergency after hours?

Call the Moscow Police Department at 208.882.2677 (882-COPS) and they will dispatch a Water Division employee.

I have dirty water. What should I do?

Flush your cold water faucet for 5-10 minutes and it should clear up. If it does not, call the Moscow Water Division at 208.882.3122.

How do I read my meter?

Open the meter box and you will most likely need to clean the lens that is on the top of the meter. Under the lens you will see a row of numbers. Read all the numbers to the left of the decimal point. If you are having trouble please contact the Water Division at 208.882.3122 for help.

Do Irrigation Systems in Moscow Require Backflow Protection and Annual Testing?

Irrigation systems connected to the City of Moscow's water supply require appropriate backflow protection. Moscow City Code Title 7, Chapter 9 requires that all irrigation systems, existing or new, must be equipped with an approved backflow prevention assembly and must be inspected and tested annually by a State of Idaho licensed backflow assembly tester.

A backflow assembly installed on your system is necessary to help prevent contaminates from entering the public water supply through what is known as backflow condition. Backflow is defined as, "the flow, other than the intended direction of flow of any foreign liquids, gases, or substances into the distribution system of a public water supply."

The protection of Moscow's water supply is of critical importance to both the City of Moscow and its citizens. If you have any questions about your irrigation system, or if you know that your irrigation system is not protected by a backflow prevention assembly and would like a list of licensed professionals who can install and test the appropriate assembly, please contact Kyle Steele at ksteele@ci.moscow.id.us or by calling the Water Division at 208.882.3122.

When can I water my yard?

The official start of Moscow's outdoor irrigation season is announced annually. To learn the date, call 208.882.3122 or visit the irrigation season page.

Please refrain from irrigating until drier soils and low precipitation necessitate the application of additional water. When you do apply water to the landscaping at your residence or business, please observe the following City ordinances to help conserve water. Thank you in advance!

During the irrigation season, sprinkler irrigation is only allowed between

6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. while applying water with a hand-held automatic shut-off nozzle is allowed anytime. The use of a soaker hose or drip irrigation is not permitted until the irrigation season. If you have new landscaping that needs to be watered outside of allowed watering times you may apply for a variance with the Moscow Water Division at 201 N Main Street.

Avoid watering impervious surfaces such as gravel, asphalt, concrete, or brick.

Where does my water come from?

The City of Moscow receives its water entirely from groundwater sources. This means that rather than being supplied with water from a lake or reservoir, we pump water from two main underground aquifer systems, the Wanapum Aquifer System and the Grande Ronde Aquifer System. Contrary to popular myth, aquifers are not underground lake or river systems. Rather, the water in the aquifer systems is located in the cracks, pores, and fissures of the basalt and sediment layers.

The Wanapum Aquifer System is the shallower aquifer system of the Palouse Basin and is found starting about 60 feet below the surface. This system supplies about 30% of the City of Moscow's water. Wanapum well levels in Moscow area wells fluctuate some due to pumping and recharge but appear to be fairly stable.

The Grande Ronde Aquifer System is the deeper aquifer system of the Palouse Basin and is generally found at depths below 300 feet, if it is available at all. This system is the main source of water for the City of Moscow and virtually the only source for Pullman and Washington State University.

Why should I conserve water?

In the Moscow area water is a precious resource. Research to protect the quality water in our aquifer systems is an ongoing venture. While more is learned every day, there are still many unknowns. The Moscow Water Division is working toward sustainable practices to ensure water will remain as accessible in the future as it is now.

How can I conserve?

Tips for reducing water use include:

  • Shorter showers, shallower baths. Turn off the water when not rinsing in the shower.
  • Install water saving devices available free to Moscow Residents.
  • Keep drinking water in the refrigerator. This will reduce the amount of water that is generally wasted when waiting for the cold water to reach the faucet.
  • Turn the faucet off when brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Check and fix leaky faucets, toilets, and hoses.
  • Rinse dishes in standing water rather than running the faucet.
  • Use the garbage disposal as little as possible.
  • Do not use the toilet as a trash can - only flush human waste-related items.
  • Run clothes-washers and dishwashers only when full.
  • Reduce landscape watering and be sure to follow the Water Conservation Ordinance.
  • Note that acceptable watering times are from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways rather than spraying them clean with water.
  • Limit car washing at home. Don't run the hose when washing the car. Instead, try using a bucket of soapy water and use the hose only to rinse.

​Contact Us

Engineering Division
Kevin Lilly - Deputy Director - Engineering/City Engineer
Paul Mann Building
221 E. Second Street
Moscow, Idaho 83843


Streets, Fleet,
Water & Water Reclamation Divisions

Tyler Palmer - Deputy Director - Operations
201 N. Main Street
Moscow, ID 83843

​​Water Reclamation & Reuse Facility
Todd J. Swanstrom - Wastewater Manager
2221 Pullman Road
Moscow, Idaho 83843