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Discolored Water

High levels of heat and humidity have increased the demand for water. Higher-than-normal flows of water through the water mains may have stirred up naturally occurring minerals from the water that collect in the pipes. As a result, some RWA consumers may be temporarily experiencing discolored water.

What causes discolored water?

Naturally occurring minerals (primarily iron and manganese) in the water are the usual causes of discolored water. These minerals are heavier than water and settle to the bottom of water mains. When the flow of water through the water pipes increases or changes direction, the minerals are stirred up and discolor the water that flows out of your faucets when you turn them on. The RWA works to keep water discoloration to a minimum by cleaning water mains on a regular basis.

Is discolored water harmful to drink?
Some people may be more vulnerable to substances in drinking water than the general population. Those people who are Immuno-compromised, such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, those who have undergone organ transplants, have HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice from their health care providers about drinking discolored water. It is a personal choice whether or not to use the discolored water. If you choose to drink it, fill a container, put it in your refrigerator to chill and let the color settle to the bottom. When ready to drink, use the clear water from the top of the container.

Can I still do laundry when the water is discolored?
Discolored water can sometimes stain fabrics, especially light colors. Wait until water runs clear at the tap before using a washing machine, and then wash a load of darker clothes first. If you were washing clothes when you first discovered the discolored water, it is better to stop the cycle while it is full and wait until clean water is available to finish. If you allow the water to empty from the washing machine and go into the spin cycle, it is more likely to cause permanent staining to the laundry items. Do not use chlorine bleach if you rewash stained laundry; bleach will set the stains. Instead, use a product made to remove rust stains.

Does discolored water indicate there’s a problem with my household plumbing system?
Discolored water can come from plumbing systems that aren’t used often. Rust or iron can build up in the plumbing system, causing brown or yellow colored water, stained fixtures and laundry, and a metallic taste. If you regularly experience discolored water, especially after periods when water hasn’t been used in your home, have your plumber check for and replace old galvanized pipe. If no galvanized pipe is found, have your plumber thoroughly flush your water heater and household plumbing system.

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