Discolored Water

The highest standards

At Aquarion Water Company, we take great pride in what we do, and we hold ourselves to the highest industry standards in delivering safe, high-quality, and affordable drinking water to our customers. When water flow through the water main increases or changes direction, accumulated minerals can be stirred up and discolor the water that flows out of your faucets when you turn them on.

Explore our FAQs below to learn more about discolored water issues and what they mean.

fire hydrant spraying water

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If water is lightly discolored, try running a cold-water faucet located at the lowest point in the house for five to 10 minutes to clear out internal plumbing. If the initial cold-water flush does not clear up the problem, wait about an hour and repeat. The amount of water used should not impact your water bill. You may also want to clean the aerator/screen on your faucet. Avoid running the hot water—this will minimize getting discolored water into the hot water tank.

Please delay washing clothing until the water has cleared. Discolored water can stain fabrics.

If the cold water remains discolored, customers should contact Aquarion’s Customer Service Center to make us aware of the issue. This will allow our staff to begin evaluating the situation and keep records of incidents to help us curtail these events in the future. Once we are aware of the issue, we will investigate the potential cause and initiate corrective actions.

The following information will assist our staff in determining the cause of discoloration:

  1. When did you first notice discolored water?
  2. How long has it been discolored?
  3. Did you see any work crews in the area or anyone using a fire hydrant in the area?
  4. Are both the hot and cold water discolored? If you have noticed discolored water in your cold water, but have not checked your hot water yet, please do not turn on your hot water because it can draw discolored water into your hot water tank.
  5. Is there a predominant color to the water discoloration (red, orange, brown, black, yellow, white)?
  6. Have you observed any sediment or residue after use?
Discolored water is not palatable. Its quality has changed since it left our treatment facility. Some populations may be more vulnerable to substances in drinking water than the general population. At risk populations include people who are immunocompromised, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or with immune system disorders, the elderly, and infants. Individuals in these groups may be at greater risk for infection. These people should seek advice from their health care provider about drinking discolored water. If you choose to drink it, fill a container, put in in your refrigerator to chill and let the minerals settle to the bottom. Use the clear water from the top of the container.
Customers should delay washing laundry until their water is clear. If a customer used their washer before realizing the water was discolored, and then noticed the laundry was stained, they should NOT dry the clothes. Instead, please contact Aquarion’s Customer Service Center and we will send you a container of "Red-B-Gone," a laundry detergent additive that takes discoloration out of clothing (an adult must be home to accept the “Red-B-Gone”).
Naturally occurring minerals, primarily iron and manganese, are typically the cause of discolored water. Trace levels of these minerals, which are heavier than water, can accumulate over time and settle in our water mains. When water flow through the water main increases or changes direction, accumulated minerals can be stirred up and discolor the water that flows out of your faucets when you turn them on. This can occur if there is a water main break, an open hydrant, scheduled water main flushing, fire-fighting activities, street sweeping, an engineering project, and/or high demand, particularly in the summer with irrigation systems running.

If your water is discolored due to a water main break, once the break has been repaired by our staff, we will open fire hydrants in the area to flush discolored water from our water mains. Once the water flowing from our hydrant runs clear, you should then run your cold-water faucets to flush any discolored water that has entered your service line or internal plumbing.

If the discolored water is not caused by a main break, Aquarion will first check if any other customers in your area have reported discolored water. If more than one customer calls us about discolored water in an area, we will dispatch a service technician to proceed directly to your area and open a hydrant to flush any discolored water from our water mains.

The best way to minimize the potential for discolored water is to periodically use controlled hydrant flushing to remove sediments from our mains. This is done by opening fire hydrants to intentionally create a controlled flow disruption and then keeping the hydrants open and flowing to discharge the discolored water and sediments from the hydrants.

When we experience discolored water in our water mains, some of this water can also get drawn into your service line (which connects your home to our water main), as well as into your home plumbing. If this occurs, you will need to flush that water from your service line and household plumbing. To do this, we recommend that you allow cold water to run from an outdoor hose spigot and/or bathtub faucet at full force until it is clear. During a water discoloration incident, it is best to limit the number of faucets and fixtures used to flush your household plumbing in order to minimize pulling discolored water throughout your household plumbing. It is usually best to run a faucet or hose spigot that is as close as possible to where your water service comes into your home. After the water runs clear from the spigot or bathtub faucet, you should check other inside cold-water faucets and run those until the water also runs clear.

If your hot water is discolored, you may also need to drain the hot water tank to clear it.

Yes. When Aquarion plans to clean the mains by systematically flushing water out of fire hydrants, customers receive advance notice through advertisements in local newspapers and/or telephone notification for customers who are registered in our reverse 911 system.

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When we learn that a number of our customers are experiencing discolored water, we put forth a significant effort to communicate with our customers and public officials during the incident. We use numerous methods to communicate, including the following:

  • Email - For each town that we serve, we maintain an up-to-date group email list that includes local and state public officials and town staff.
  • Posts/notifications - Information is also shared on the Aquarion website, Aquarion Facebook Page, and neighborhood and community Facebook pages.
  • Reverse 911 calls - Our Alerts & Outages system allows us to quickly deliver important phone messages to targeted areas or customers.

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