Appearance, odor and taste
We’re all used to turning on the tap and getting cool, clear water. But, on rare occasions, you might have discolored water at your home or business. This change is most likely due to the property’s internal plumbing. While the causes of this discoloration vary, the water is still safe. Our water meets all the State and Federal regulatory standards. Also, Castle Rock Water conducts frequent and routine water-quality testing to ensure your water stays safe.
White or cloudy
White or cloudy water may be due to air in the pipes that creates tiny bubbles when water leaves the tap. It is not a health risk. This typically occurs during colder months when water in outdoor pipes is colder and holds more dissolved oxygen than household pipes. When the cold water enters your home or building and begins to warm, the dissolved oxygen bubbles come out of solution which can cause the water to look milky.
Another cause may be maintenance or construction on the distribution system lines. This may allow air to enter the water pipes and cause the water to have a cloudy appearance.
Black or brown water
If you see water with a black or brown tinge coming from your hot water tap, the culprit may be your water heater. Most manufacturers suggest flushing your water heater at least once a year. This discoloration is due to sediment settling at the bottom of the tank which can build up over time. The sediment includes naturally occurring minerals in the water, such as manganese (black color) and iron (brown color). Test to see if the discoloration is from the water heater by flushing the toilet, which only uses cold water. If the water in the toilet is not discolored, your water heater may need maintenance.
Water with a brown or yellow hue that is apparent from the first draw may be the internal plumbing of your home or building. This may be the issue if you only see the discoloration for the first minute or two after you turn on the tap. If you see this discoloration constantly, it may be due to sediments in the water mains. Sediment can get stirred up if there is flushing or maintenance in the area and may cause a brown or yellow color. One way to figure out whether the discoloration is due to your indoor plumbing or from the water main is to consult with your neighbors and see if they are having similar issues with their water quality.
And, of course you can always call us at 720-733-6000 to report a concern.
Particles and other discoloration
Sometimes, the interior surfaces of water pipes rust or become coated with minerals. If a disruption in the pipeline occurs, small pieces of these materials may become dislodged, causing discoloration or particles in the water.
Defective or aging plumbing within the property can also lead to discolored water. Pieces of rubber or plastic washers that age and crumble can leave particles in the water. Also, improperly joined dissimilar materials (such as iron and galvanized steel, or copper and iron) can accelerate corrosion and turn water red or green for short periods of time when disturbance occurs. Aging pipe can also rust or corrode and then become a potential source of discolored water.
Particles, specifically small black ones, can be coming from a water filter. The granular-activated carbon can break down over time and escape the filter cartridge. It is recommended to change filters on refrigerators and other in-home appliances according to manufacturer’s instructions.
What to do
Should there be discoloration of your water, turn on a faucet for about 15 minutes to flush your plumbing system. Typically, this is enough to clear up the water, as the disturbance subsides and the discolored water is flushed out. If the issue does not quickly resolve itself, call 720-733-6000 or email us. We can work through ways to resolve the issue. If the issue is in the distribution system, we may flush fire hydrants in the localized area to remove any discolored water from the system.
Most unpleasant odors are actually not from your water, but your drains. This odor can intensify when using hot water.
If your water smells like rotten eggs or sewage, this is most likely from a buildup of organic material in your household drains. Bacteria that grows on food, hair, soap and decaying waste can form gases and produce unpleasant odors. This is especially apparent when using hot water.
There are several methods to eliminate the odors coming from decaying organic matter within the home’s drains. One suggested method is to pour baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar. Let this bubbling mixture sit for a couple of minutes and then rinse with very hot water. Grinding a lemon wedge or two in your kitchen sink disposal also helps to maintain a fresh scent in the drain.
Another cause of these odors may be your water heater. Water heaters that have not been in use for a period of time, can produce a septic or sulfuric smell when turned back on.
The final step in our water treatment process is to add disinfectant, chloramine, to the water which helps maintain the safety of the water as is travels through the pipes and into your home. Some people claim they can smell this trace disinfectant. Should you choose to do so, there are filters you can buy to filter chloramines and eliminate this odor.
The taste of water is primarily due to different minerals in the water. The minerals are naturally occurring and are elements your body needs.
Salty or bitterness
Water softeners and filters used within your home can also cause an odor or taste. With an ion-exchange water softener, salt is used to ‘exchange’ minerals that cause the hardness. This salt can be detectable. It is recommended to change out filters as indicated in the user manual as these can serve as a medium for bacterial growth.
Front Range communities, like Castle Rock, have Moderately Hard to Hard water. Hard water is created when water moves through soil and rock dissolving small amounts of naturally occurring minerals. These minerals primarily include calcium and magnesium which are essential minerals frequently found in food. Hard water is not a health concern and thus water providers typically do not treat for it.
There are both advantages and disadvantages in having hard water. Hard water tends to have a better taste and the calcium is actually good for children’s teeth and bones. Calcium and lime can coat pipes which is an added protection to pipes. However, this build up, over time, could eventually limit water flow through the pipe. Hard water can be noticed when these minerals precipitate out of the water, leaving a scale or calcification residue. This scale can usually be removed from appliances and fixtures with vinegar or other commercial products. If hard water is used in a humidifier, it can produce a fine white residue on furniture. One way to prevent this is to use distilled water in a humidifier. Hard water can make soap more difficult to lather and create soap scum, but many soaps and detergents available today contain softeners that help negate these effects.
Causes of changes in water
Pipeline disruptions that change the flow direction or the velocity of water in piping systems, both the public system and / or private plumbing, can cause discoloration or other changes in water. Examples of these disruptions include:
- Construction activities that require valves to be operated, water to be turned off temporarily or where new taps and mains connect
- Dead end water mains that are not used very often but are suddenly used at a high rate
- Electrical outages that impact system pumps or valves
- Rapid shut-off of faucets or automatic valves in washing machines
- Rapidly opening or closing fire hydrants or valves
- Water main breaks
- Change in use of water treatment plant due to seasonality or maintenance
The diversification of sources affects how we treat our water. To ensure sustainability, Castle Rock Water is securing renewable water that will come from a variety of sources. In 2013, we began getting water from Plum Creek and in 2018, we started importing water from northern sources, and in 2021 we began utilizing reuse water. The makeup of each source of water is slightly different and the treatment differs causing a varied end result. This is one reason why water from different communities may taste different. Of course, all water is thoroughly treated and tested to continually maintain or exceed water quality standards.