District News Articles

  2. Rusty / Dirty Water


    When the water from your faucet is brown it may be the result of a disturbance in the water main. Even though your water is filtered, over time a very fine layer of iron and sediment can develop on the bottom of the water mains that can be stirred up during routine maintenance or capital construction rehabilitation. While the water is still safe to drink, it isn’t very pleasant to look at. Hydraulic disturbances caused by hydrant use, valve turning, main breaks or adjacent construction can stir up these sediments and cause the water to be brown. Usually the water will clear on its own within a few hours. If your water is brown:


    ·       Don't drink the water. It may not be harmful, but we don't advise drinking any obviously discolored or dirty water. It is fine to use this water to flush toilets.

    ·       Avoid using hot water until the pipes clear. That avoids drawing dirty water into your hot water tank.

    ·       After an hour or so, run the cold water for several minutes to see if it is clear. When one faucet runs clear, run the cold water through all home faucets until each is clear. This step will eliminate the dirty water that may have been drawn into your pipes. If this does not go away in a few hours, you should call the District at 303-979-2333.


    To prevent dirty water from being delivered to our customers the District regularly flushes fire hydrants throughout the distribution system to clean the mains in the streets and remove scale build-up in pipes. When crews flush hydrants and remove this material from the hydrant and several miles of pipe, it comes out of a hydrant all at once, and the water may initially look discolored. If you watch our workers flush, you will notice that the water clears up rather quickly.



    Cloudy Water


    That appearance of a milky color is really air bubbles. When the outside temperature drops, our pipes get cold and so does your drinking water. Bring that cold water into a warm home, and oxygen gas is released into the water as tiny bubbles. Fill a glass with water and let it stand for a few seconds. If the water clears from the bottom toward the top, the milky color is just the oxygen bubbles rising, similar to opening a bottle of soda.



    Colored Particles In Your Faucet Aerator And Fixtures


    Usually colored particles in drinking water indicate the dip tube in your hot water heater is disintegrating. The dip tube is a long tube inside the water heater. It connects to the cold water pipe at the top of the heater and takes the cold water down to the base of the water heater to the heating element.


    The majority of water heaters made in the 1990's utilized a dip tube made of plastic (PVC) which breaks down. It starts to break down from the bottom and over time the flecks get into your pipes. While the majority of particles are white, household plumbing can alter their color, copper plumbing can turn them blue/green while galvanized iron can turn them a reddish color. They clog the faucets with screens and hot water hoses which are connected to appliances. They will clog up shower heads. As the dip tube gets shorter and shorter you have less and less hot water. The water heater has to work much harder to heat up water since the cold water takes up more space.


    When this happens, the dip tube needs to be replaced. Contact the manufacturer to get the best information on replacement. Many people will want to call a plumber who can flush the hot water heater at the same time. The flecks are not toxic or harmful.


    If you have filters attached to your plumbing system or a water pitcher that uses carbon filters to remove contaminants, these can also contribute to the presence of black particles. The small carbon particles of these filters are black and can pass through in your water. Black particles can also come from precipitated iron and manganese in water, which may come loose from pipe walls after a large main break or major construction.


    Another common cause of black particles in tap water is the disintegration of rubber materials used in plumbing fixtures. Plumbing gaskets and o-rings disintegrate over time and can collect in toilet tanks and around faucets.


    Flushing the system and your taps will likely resolve the issue of black particles caused by plumbing fixtures or construction. If black particles are from your filter, you should replace the filter as recommended by the manufacturer.


    White residue is commonly found in showers and kitchenware as the result of dissolved minerals found in water, such as calcium and magnesium. Mineral particles can also be visible in ice cubes made with tap water. These minerals are not a risk to human health but can build up on surfaces over time. Commercial products are available to remove white residue caused by minerals in water.


    If you wish to do a further test you could take some of these particles and put them in a glass with some vinegar. The plastic will not melt, minerals will dissolve.


    If at any time you have questions about the appearance of your water, please contact the District at 303-979-2333.