Why Is My Water Colored?

Normally, the water delivered to you by Tucson Water is clear and clean. However, there are several unusual situations that can cause your water to have a brown, red, orange, or blue/green tint.

Brown, Red, or Orange Water

Several different conditions can cause water to appear brown, red, or orange.

Sediment can occur in your water when a pipe breaks and dirt gets into the pipe during repairs. In addition, sand can sometimes get into the water system when a well malfunctions and pumps sandy water. Neither of these situations occur very often and both usually clear up quickly. In these cases, Tucson Water crews repair the problem and flush out the dirt or sand from the main system. If you find sand or sediment in your home, flush your system through a hose bib for several minutes until the water clears. If it does not clear, call Tucson Water to investigate the cause.

If the sediment you are encountering in your home appears as white particles, these are likely produced in your water heater. To mitigate this issue, flush your water heater periodically per manufacturer's recommendations.

Some of the large water mains in the Tucson Water distribution system used to be old iron or galvanized steel pipe. Rust from these pipes could loosen and enter the water. Tucson Water has replaced more than 275 miles of these old mains to help eliminate this issue.

Most rust issues now are related to the fact that many homes and businesses built in the 1950s and 1960s have old and rusty galvanized private plumbing. Typically the rust color is noted by homeowners after returning from a vacation, or a few days away. This is caused by water sitting in rusty piping for a period of time. Businesses could encounter rust-colored water on Monday mornings, after being closed for the weekend. If this is the case, open taps to flush the rust color from your system. If flushing does not resolve the issue, contact Tucson Water to investigate for a possible distribution system problem. To eliminate the rusting issue, replace all old galvanized and rusting pipe in your private plumbing system.

Rust colored water at one location, such as the bathtub, is likely due to a single rusting galvanized nipple behind the faucet/nozzle. A plumber can replace the galvanized nipple with a bronze nipple.

Water that sits in cul-de-sacs or dead end lines can sometimes stagnate, creating red or brownish water. Tucson Water flushes stagnant areas of the distribution system to clear the problem.

Blue, Green or Turquoise Water

In almost all cases, water that appears with a blue or greenish tint is caused by brand new copper water lines in your home plumbing system. Water passing through the lines creates natural oxidation and turns the water blue. Eventually, the inside of the lines will be coated with minerals found naturally in the water and the oxidation will stop. If you have a water softener, which removes many of the minerals from the water, this natural process will take longer than usual. Some water softening companies can inject minerals into the water that will coat the inside of the lines faster than the natural process.

Water softeners use materials called ion exchange resins which are part of the water softening process. Sometimes when a softener is in need of maintenance, it can release this resin into the water and you will see tiny orange or gold "beads" or spheres in your water. If this occurs, have the softener serviced by a water softener company and have faucets flushed to clear the material.

What Do I Do?

If you notice a colored water problem in your home, call the Tucson Water Customer Support Unit at (520) 791-5945. Staff can help you identify the problem and, if necessary, dispatch a crew to flush the water system.