Water Quality

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Common Water Quality Questions

North Port Utilities works hard to provide quality water and wastewater services to all of our customers.  Our goal is to make sure that we provide the highest water quality possible so our customers have confidence in their water.  A large part of what we do include regular monitoring and sampling for water quality in the City’s water distribution system.  Our technicians monitor system disinfection levels, perform water quality checks, and flush lines when necessary to maintain water quality. 

We take water quality concerns very seriously, and water quality calls are treated with priority at the City of North Port.  In fact, the City in cooperation with citizens of North Port have recognized the need to form a Canal Watch Group

Often, we get calls about common situations within the household that can be easily addressed by the resident.  Here are some of the most common water quality questions our residents have and what you can do about them.

 

Why is there a pink stain in my toilet/sink/tub?

The pink stain or residue that you may be seeing is actually Serratia Marcescens, airborne bacteria, that thrives on moisture, dust and phosphates.  Florida’s humid environment makes a great home for the bacteria is naturally occurring in soil, food and in animals.  The pink residue that folks encounter is generally noted in toilets, sinks, tubs, and sometimes pet bowls. 

This is not a problem with your water quality.  Serratia Marcescens cannot survive in disinfected drinking water delivered through a closed system, but once water sits in open air long enough for the residual disinfectant to dissipate, the bacteria can settle in. Because areas like a toilet, shower curtain, or pet dish allow water to sit for in open air for a period of time, they provide a great place for the bacteria to survive.  Also, customers who have activated carbon filters that remove disinfectants may see this more.

Good news! 

There are simple steps you can take to get rid of the stains.  Regular and thorough cleaning of the areas with chlorine bleach is the best way to prevent the pink.  Other steps you can take include:

  • Wiping tubs, showers, curtains and drains dry and spraying with a mist of a bleach product or disinfectant.
  • Cleaning the toilet bowl regularly. You may wish to add ¼ cup of bleach to the toilet tank, let stand for 15-20 minutes, and then flush the bowl a couple of times to fully rinse the disinfectant. Bleach should not be left in the toilet tank for prolonged periods, however, as it will damage the rubber seals and valves inside.
  • Avoid any abrasives that could scratch or rough up the fixture finish, this can raise the potential for bacteria to grow.
  • Cleaning pet water bowls in a similar manner. Leave a bleach solution in the bowl for 15-20 minutes, followed by thorough rinsing.

   

Why does my water stink?

No one likes foul odors, especially when it comes to their water.  There could be a few causes of the sewage or rotten egg you may be smelling. Most commonly, gas will accumulate in the drain or pipes and once the water is turned on, the gas is forced up and out of the drain into the air around the sink, leading folks to think the smell is from the water. 

The most common culprit is hydrogen sulfide gas, which most people will notice an odor at levels as low as .5 parts per million (PPM).  Under 1 PPM, a musty smell may be noticed and between 1-2 PPM you may smell something like rotten eggs. 

 

Where is the smell coming from?

To combat the odor, the first step is to figure out if it is truly coming from the water itself or another source.  This is as simple as filling a glass of water from the tap and walking away from the faucet before you take a sniff.  We recommend walking out of the room.  If you don’t notice the smell from the water when you change your location, then the smell is likely from the drain or pipes.

If you have determined that the smell is definitely coming from the water itself, please contact us at 941-240-8000.

 

P-Traps 

If the water isn’t run regularly where you notice the odor, it may be a P-trap issue.  Most plumbing fixtures contain a P-trap to prevent gas from backing out through your drain.  In order to work, P-traps need to be properly vented and have a regular supply of water going through them.  If they dry out or are not properly vented, the trap seal can’t function properly, allowing gas to escape into your home.  We see this frequently with seasonal residents, in spare restrooms that are not regularly used, or when people return from long vacations.   Generally, simply running the water for a few minutes will air things out and the smell usually doesn’t come back with regular use. 

 

Presence of Bacteria in Drains

If the fixture is used regularly, smell of sewage may likely be caused by bacteria in your drain producing gases that rise when the faucet is turned on.  This bacteria can come from soap, food or other materials in the drain and causes gas to sit in the drain near the sink. 

To remove any bacteria from your drain, you will need to disinfect the sink and pipes with some cleaner, making sure that you get into the pipes right inside your drain.  We recommend using a small brush.  Once clean and rinsed, you can disinfect with some chlorine bleach.

 

Hot Water Heaters

If you only experience the smell when using hot water, you may have bacteria growing in your hot water heater.  When a water heater’s temperature is too low, or it’s off for an extended period of time, it provides an opportunity for bacteria to grow. 

If you think your hot water heater may be the issue, you can try adjusting your temperature setting up higher for up to 24 hours and then running the hot water fixtures to flush out the pipes.  We also recommend flushing your hot water heater.  Please take care if you raise your heater’s temperature to avoid any burns from the hotter water.

 

Still Smelly?

If you have investigated and taken these steps and you are still smelling an odor, you may need to contact a plumber to help you locate the source of the issue.  While we do all we can to help our customers and answer their questions, we cannot diagnose issues with plumbing inside your home.  Please feel free to contact our office at 941-240-8000 any with questions or concerns and we will be happy to help as much as we can.

 

Why does my water look cloudy/milky?

Sometimes water may look cloudy or milky when you first pour it from the tap and then clears up after a few seconds.  This is not a water quality problem and is completely harmless.  What you are seeing is the result of tiny air bubbles in the water which may be resulting from a couple of things. 

 

Repairs

If repairs have recently been made to the water lines serving your area, you may notice some cloudiness resulting from air in the lines from the repair work.  Flushing your faucets should clear this up.

 

Temperature

When it is very cold outside, air becomes more soluble in water as the temperature decreases, so cold water holds more air.  As the water warms up in your pipes, the air is no longer soluble and comes out of the solution in tiny bubbles, giving the cloudy or milky appearance.  If you let the water sit in an open container, the bubbles will disappear on their own. 

 

Pressure

Similarly to cold water, water that is pressurized (like in our system) holds more air than water that isn’t.  If the pressure in our system is high, the air comes out of the water once the water flows from your tap and loses that pressure.  The result is tiny air bubbles clouding up the water.  If you let the water sit in an open container, the bubbles will disappear on their own. 

 

Why is my bath water blue/green?

Sometimes, when filling a tub, the water can appear to have a tint of blue or green that becomes deeper the higher you fill the tub.  There are a few things that might cause this.

 

Lighting

Believe it or not, the most common reason for this blue/green tint stems from the lighting in your bathroom.  Water absorbs some colors and reflects others when light shines on it with the color becoming more distinct as the water grows deeper.  Different light bulbs produce different types of light, causing the water to appear different colors.  To make sure it’s not the water itself, simply fill a glass of water and bring it outside into the sunlight.  If there is no tint, then you can bet it’s the lighting.  

 

Fixture Finish

While your tub or sink may be white, there may be a slight form of color added to the finish during the manufacturing process that is magnified by the water.  To make sure it’s not the water itself, simply fill a glass of water and bring it outside into the sunlight.  If that same color isn’t there, then you can bet it’s the tub or sink.  

 

Copper Pipes

Another possible cause of a blue/green tint to water may be corrosion of copper piping.  In Florida copper piping typically has a life expectancy of 20-25 years.  In older homes, this corrosion is likely from natural wear and tear over time.  There are certain things that can speed up the corrosion of copper piping such as pH imbalance of the water, sand sediment and grit wearing down the pipe, and high water velocity wearing down the inner lining of the pipe.  If you are concerned about copper in your water, you can purchase a water test kit for copper, contact a water professional to test it for you, or you can contact a plumber to inspect your piping for corrosion.

 

Water Heater Corrosion

Over time, the aluminum anode rod in water heaters can slowly erode, forming a green gelatinous material. This may be particularly noticeable when you drain your water heater.

 

 

Why does my water look yellow/brownish?

Utility Work

Repairs are a common necessity for every water distribution system and in the process sometimes rust or other particulate matter can be stirred up.  We typically flush the lines once the repair is made to remove any air and rust that can cause discoloration, but we can’t flush your service line.  While this discoloration isn’t harmful, it can stain and we recommend letting the water run for a few minutes to get rid of any discoloration.  If the discoloration persists, please call us at 941-240-8000 and let us know.

 

Flushing Water Lines

In order to maintain proper disinfectant residuals in areas where there are dead end lines or less movement due to seasonal vacancies, it is necessary to flush lines.  The change in pressure and velocity during flushing can loosen rust particulate in the lines temporarily causing a yellowish color to the water.  While this discoloration poses no health concern, we recommend running your faucets for a few minutes until your water runs clear.

 

Why is my water pressure lower at my kitchen sink?

If you have filtration system under your sink, you may need to change the cartridge.  Cartridge filters at the end of their life cycle can become filled with harmless particulate matter, slowing the water flow to the faucet.  You can find replacement filters at most home and hardware outlets.  Be sure to check the filter system’s manufacturer recommendations and note the filter type and size to make sure that you get the correct cartridge for your system.