Why is My Tap Water Discolored?There are several factors that can affect the appearance of tap water and potentially alter its color:
- Change in water supply source: The Flint crisis is an example of how a change in water supply source can affect water color and quality. In 2014, the city switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River as its primary water source. Inadequate treatment procedures for the river water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the public water supply, resulting in discoloration and contamination.
- Organic matter: Materials such as dirt, sediment and minerals (calcium or magnesium) can accumulate in water mains over time, which can cause tap water to turn a brownish color. Brown water typically is not contaminated, although public experts indicate that you should not drink it.
- Corrosion: Copper plumbing pipes can corrode as they age, this causes water to turn bluish-green and can leave stains on your plumbing fixtures. High levels of copper in the water supply also poses health concerns. If your community’s water system uses pipes made of galvanized steel, iron or cast iron, the rust from these pipes will cause the water to turn red, orange or yellow.
- Air bubbles: You may have cause to ask, “Why is my tap water cloudy?”. Typically, tap water will look milky or white due to trapped air that forms bubbles in the bottom of a drinking glass. If you allow the glass to set for a few minutes, the water becomes clear. However, if you have well water that maintains a milky appearance you should have your system checked by a water treatment professional.
- Pollution: A polluted water supply can result in discoloration. There are several possible causes of water pollution such as pesticides (which can be an issue in South Central PA agricultural communities), chemical dumping and residue from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) mining operations.