All over the USA, there is increasing anxiety about how well our water systems are working as these systems age. Events like the Flint, Michigan water crisis are at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. You might find that your glass of water is slightly yellow – or any number of shades and hues. You might find yourself alarmed enough to dump it right back down the drain. However, stop and consider, is that always the best solution? You can never be too careful when it comes to water quality, but there are natural and transient causes of discoloration. The safety risks are minimal, but there are notable exceptions. This article aims to help you make the right decision for your situation.

What Causes Discolored Water?

Thankfully, many causes are not only temporary but harmless. The most common reasons are naturally occurring minerals entering the water line, causing a temporary discoloration in the water. These minerals are heavy, and in most circumstances, will settle to the bottom of distribution systems. However, a heavy load can disturb and distribute the minerals through the water. Many things can cause a flow disruption, like flow changing direction, a broken water main, firefighting operations, broken fire hydrants, or even road work. You may also have bio-fouled water or rusting in the pipes, and the odds of there being a problem in your system, well, or water main increase the longer your water remains discolored.

Potential Risks

In most cases, drinking water that has been mildly discolored by a transient disruption like those described above will be just fine after drinking water with higher mineral content. Healthy adults and children will not have to worry about the effects of drinking discolored water, while those who are immunocompromised will want to exercise more discretion. While discolored water is usually not dangerous when it is from a higher than normal mineral count, the taste and smell may be altered.

Aside from health concerns, discolored water can also stain fixtures, clothing, and surfaces if you use it to clean. The cloudier or darker your water is, the more contaminated it is, and the EPA has guidelines for various contaminants that help determine how safe your discolored water may be. While the most common contaminants are harmless, you will want to determine precisely what is discoloring your water.

What Should I Do Now?

When you notice your water beginning to change, you can do a few things to determine what you’re dealing with. If your water is foggy or cloudy and full of bubbles when you first draw it from your tap, give it a few moments. If the cloudiness disappears when the bubbles all rise, your water’s color is likely due to bubbles, and there may not be any issue with the water system – especially if it tastes like normal.

You can also remove the mesh aerator, the thin metal screen inside your faucet’s spout, by turning it to the left. It would be best if you then clean it gently with a wire brush and cold water. This piece can be a deceptively simple cause of discolored water. Avoid using hot water when you notice a change in your water’s color. This will fill the hot water tank with discolored water.

If the water is still discolored, run the cold water for a while until it runs clear. It may take time, so you may consider asking your neighbors if they’re experiencing any issues with their water. The next step is to call your utility provider and ask about issues such as maintenance or faulty pipes. Lastly, if you notice sediment (calcium, lime, or other particulates) in your water, your filter and/or pump may be failing. Whenever your water quality takes a dive, and you’ve exhausted all options, you’ll want professional help. Luckily, American Pump Services(Link to is here to help you figure out exactly what’s going on with your water systems and provide the following steps to getting you and your family the quality of water you deserve.