Public Works

Why is My Water Brown?

Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the water brown?
From time to time, Tigard Water Service Area customers experience brown or discolored water.  These events are generally due to high water flows within the water pipe.  High flows can occur when fire hydrants are used for fire suppression, when pipes break and flow massive quantities of water or when a fire hydrant might be damaged due to vehicle collision.

Your water is brown due to tiny rust particles made of iron and natural sediments. Under normal conditions, these particles lie undisturbed on the bottom of the pipes. When a disturbance occurs such as a water pipe break, it causes the water in the pipes to flow much faster than normal, which in turn, causes rust particles to be picked up off the bottom of the pipe and carried into the water. This can happen due to a broken water main, a fire in the neighborhood or anything that causes the water in the pipes to move faster.

What about the health safety of brown water?
Our lab has never found any harmful bacteria in rusty water but we recommend that you do not drink it until it becomes clear again. You can determine this by filling a clean glass with the water and placing it on a white piece of paper.

How long until the water clears?
Normally, the water will clear up in four to eight hours. You can help by flushing your commode every half hour or so until it runs clear. Please try not to use your hot water until the water clears, this will keep sediment out of your water heater.

What about laundry stains?
Do not add bleach. It will make the stain harder to remove. Laundry stains from rusty water can be removed with  special cleaning agents. If you have stained laundry as a result of rusty water, please call our customer service at 503-718-2591 for more information.

What does the Public Works Department do to help?  
As soon as the Public Works Department is notified of rusty water in the city lines, crews begin locating the source of the problem and correcting it. Remember that it usually takes four to eight hours for the water to clear. This time frame is due to natural forces beyond the department's control.

Media Alerts
When we become aware of a major disturbance in the water lines, the media are notified through a press release which carries the warning of possible rusty water in certain areas. There are times, however, when the department is not aware of the disturbance or of rusty water problems until customers report it. The department still notifies the media in such cases, but the notification is after the fact.

Additional Information
If you need more information on the quality of Tigard's drinking water, please contact the Water Division at 503-718-2591, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

We appreciate your patience and support while crews respond and correct any problems associated with brown water. 


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