On occasion, the water in the system can become discolored. Although water is not aesthetically pleasing when it becomes discolored due to natural sediments, there are no adverse health effects if the discolored water is consumed.
All naturally occurring waters have some sediment as part of their makeup. Most of the time it goes unnoticed and is only observable when it becomes concentrated.
Bastrop County Water District obtains its water supply from five groundwater wells. Water has naturally occurring minerals such as iron, silica, and calcium in various quantities. Over time, these minerals accumulate inside water mains and internal household plumbing.
On occasion, when the flow of the water inside the water mains or in the household plumbing increases, the sediment will come off the pipes and be carried by the water. The water tends to appear a yellow-orange color due to the iron oxide (rust) or other particles.
The most common event that causes discolored water is when a water main breaks causing the flow in the mains to increase significantly. When the water becomes discolored due to a main break, it tends to clear after the system “settles down” once again. We often will flow water out of a hydrant to clear the water from the main, and we encourage people to run their water through the service line to clear the discoloration.
If rust colored stains have developed on your fixtures, there are products used to remove the stains very effectively, such as Red-B-Gone.
Many times, discolored water is due to the accumulation of rust in the hot water tank. If the discolored water is limited to the hot water tap, then you can determine the discolored water is associated with the hot water tank. It is always beneficial to flush out the hot water tank every six months or so to remove a possible source of discolored water, it will also improve the heating efficiency by removing the materials from insulating the heating element.
Occasionally, customers express concerns of a “rotten egg” type odor from the water. The smell of rotten eggs is usually associated with hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is formed by sulfur bacteria that may occur naturally in the water. The bacteria use naturally occurring sulfur in the water as a source of food. The sulfur bacteria do not cause disease, but their presence can cause a bad taste or odor.
When people call about hydrogen sulfide odor, they often times state the odor is coming from the kitchen faucet. What may be occurring is that food has accumulated in the drain of the kitchen sink and is decaying and producing the hydrogen sulfide gas. When the water is turned on, the water displaces the hydrogen sulfide that has accumulated, and the gas rises, making the odor more noticeable. Because turning the water on initiates this sequence of events, people understandably think the odor is coming from the water.
In order to determine if the odor is truly in the water, it is suggested that a person draw a glass of water and walk away from the sink and then smell the water. This way, someone can decipher if the sink or the water is the source of the odor.
If the sink is the source of the odor, pour bleach down the drain and let it sit for a few hours. This should eliminate any source of the odor. Repeat as the problem reoccurs.
“Rotten egg” odors from hydrogen sulfide are sometimes only present in hot water. This may indicate a reaction with the magnesium rod in the water heater. Consider either removal or replacement with an aluminum rod as a remedy.
If the temperature in a hot water heater tank is set too low, odor-causing bacteria may thrive, which results in the hydrogen sulfide odor. Raising the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours can kill the odor-causing bacteria (make sure you have a properly functioning pressure relief valve or let the hot water drip out of a faucet before turning up the temperature). Upon completion, return the temperature to the desired level.
Occasionally flushing the hot water heater can also help to remove the odor-causing bacteria, as well as sediment that may be adversely affecting the efficiency of the hot water heater.