Water Color, Taste & Odor
Sweetwater Authority takes pride in consistently delivering water that not only meets, but exceeds federal and state water quality standards. Occasionally, however, certain occurrences within the Authority’s water sources or distribution system can affect water color, taste and odor.
Discolored water can be caused by certain occurrences within the Authority’s water sources or distribution system. In most cases, discolored water is safe to drink and use.
If the water has an unusual color not described below, please do not drink or use the water. Call (619) 420-1413 for emergency assistance. There may be a chemical backflow in your water service.
Brown or yellow water usually means a change in water flow has caused some of the naturally-occurring mineral sediments (mainly iron and manganese) which may accumulate inside of the pipeline to get stirred up or break free. Inside your home, you may also notice an accumulation of mineral sediment in your toilets over time.
What to do
If your water appears brown/yellow:
- Run the water at an outside hose bib for several minutes to flush the line between your meter and house.
- Once the water has cleared entering your home or business, remove aerators from your faucets, then run faucets for several minutes to remove any remaining discolored water.
- Monitor water color prior to starting laundry to avoid potential stains. If your laundry has been stained as a result of discolored water, please call (619) 420-1413 for further assistance.
Cloudy water is usually caused by air trapped in the water lines.
What to do
If your water appears milky/cloudy, pour water into a pitcher or glass, and let sit for a few minutes. The water should become clear. If it does, the water is safe for all uses.
When a slight tint is observed when filling a white sink or bathtub, but is not apparent in a glass of water, the observed tint may be due to naturally occurring color from Sweetwater Reservoir, a local water source for Authority customers. Our water treatment processes are able to remove most, but not all, natural color from the water.
Taste & Odor Concerns
There are two common reasons for water to taste or smell unusual – chlorine and algae. In most cases, these two taste or odor concerns typically resolve quickly, and water is safe to drink and use.
Chlorine odor or taste
Water may occasionally smell or taste like chlorine, which is used as part of the treatment process to kill germs in the water.
Musty/earthy odor or taste
Water may occasionally smell “musty,” “earthy,” or “grassy.” These odors are caused by algae, which commonly grows in surface water reservoirs, including Sweetwater Reservoir. Algae occurrences are seasonal and usually happen during warm summer months.
Chemical/sewage odor = DO NOT DRINK/USE WATER
If your water has a "chemical" smell, or if it smells like sewage, it could indicate a dangerous backflow condition. Do not drink or use the water. Call (619) 420-1413 for emergency assistance.