As pH usually has no direct impact on consumers, it is one of the most important operational water quality parameters. Careful attention to pH control is necessary at all stages of water treatment to ensure satisfactory water clarification and disinfection.

For effective disinfection with chlorine, the pH should preferably be less than 8; however, lower-pH water (approximately pH 7 or less) is more likely to be corrosive. The pH of the water entering the distribution system must be controlled to minimize the corrosion of water mains and pipes in household water systems. Alkalinity and calcium management also contribute to the stability of water and control its aggressiveness to pipes and appliances. Failure to minimize corrosion can result in the contamination of drinking-water and in adverse effects on its taste and appearance. The optimum pH required will vary in different supplies according to the composition of the water and the nature of the construction materials used in the distribution system, but it is usually in the range 6.5–8.5. Extreme values of pH can result from accidental spills, treatment breakdowns and insufficiently cured cement mortar pipe linings or cement mortar linings applied when the alkalinity of the water is low. No health-based guideline value has been proposed for pH.