Discolored Water

"My water has a yellow rusty color!"
You turn on your faucet to get a drink of water and find the water to be yellow or light brown color. What is happening? The city sometimes receives these kinds of calls and wants to inform our customers as to the potential reasons for the problem.

The culprit is the presence of the minerals iron and manganese. Bremerton's drinking water sources are tested for these minerals on a regular basis and results are within the protective standards determined by the Washington State Department of Health.

Where Iron & Manganese Come From
The minerals may be coming from a number of sources, here are some typical possibilities:
  • The pipes in your home may be rusty. This can happen if you have older, galvanized iron plumbing. Galvanized plumbing has a silvery color, whereas copper pipe is orange-colored. Galvanized pipe was commonly used in home plumbing prior to the mid-1960s.
  • Your hot water tank is rusting or sediments have accumulated in the hot water tank. This would not affect your cold water.
  • Naturally-occurring sediments in the water main in the street have been stirred up. This can happen during a water main break, when the fire hydrant in your area has been used, when the city is performing annual water main flushing to remove sediments, or from other circumstances.
What You Can Do
Here's an opportunity to do some detective work. Find out if any of your neighbors have discolored water. If they do, then it may be the water main in your area. The city is responsible for the piping system which delivers the water to your property. Give us a call so we can evaluate the problem. If your neighbors have clear, normal water, or if your water clears up when you run a tap for a minute, or the discoloration is only in your hot water, then the problem is most likely in your home plumbing. Homeowners are responsible for indoor plumbing.

Discolored Water Flushing Instructions
Call the Water Hotline at 360-473-5490 for information or follow the simple steps below if you discover discolored water in your home.

Discolored water is the result of the minerals and iron in the mains being stirred up from high flow situations, which may occur while performing maintenance, during fire fighting or excessive water usage due to warm weather. The discolored water is safe as it is continually checked and tested.

Whenever you have discolored water, you should not use any hot water. You need to wait until you get the cold water clear first. You should not use any water for at least an hour and then perform the following procedures:
  • Go to an outside hose bib or cold water faucet in the bathtub and let the water run for a minute or two, no longer.
  • After that, you need to do the same thing to each individual cold-water faucet inside your home.
  • When this procedure is completed, if your water is still discolored, you will need to follow the above instructions after another hour.
Elevated Levels of Iron or Manganese Effects
It is unlikely that the discolored water would cause any health problems. Discolored water is mainly an aesthetic issue. Your water may have an "off" taste or the clothes may be stained by the iron after laundering. There are several products on the market to remove rust stains.