Naturally occurring minerals, primarily iron and manganese, flowing with the water are typically to blame for water discoloration. These minerals, which are heavier than water, settle in water pipelines when water usage is low — especially during winter months. When the water flow and pressure through the water pipes increases again, or there is a disruption in the distribution system, the minerals are stirred up and flow out of your faucets when you turn on the tap.
If discoloration occurs, run the COLD water at one faucet for 5 to 15 minutes, and you should see the water clear. Running the hot water pulls from the water heater, which could make the problem worse. If the water fails to clear after 15 minutes, wait for a few hours and again try running only the cold water. If the water is still discolored, contact the DPW Water Division. Even if you are in an apartment or don’t pay your water bill directly, it’s important to notify the Water Division of any potential problem.
Although the water is discolored, it remains safe to drink. It is possible, though, that the discoloration is a symptom of another issue, which is why it is important to contact the DPW Water Division if running cold water for 15 minutes doesn’t resolve the issue.