Drinking Water: Tastes, Odors and Discoloration

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Drinking Water: Tastes, Odors and Discoloration

If you notice a odd taste, odor, or discoloration in your water, it is a good idea to check the area around the water source first. 
Is the area clean? Are there stains on the fixtures? Below are some information about some characteristics that can be observed in your tap water. 

If you are ever concerned about the quality of your water in your home, please call our 24/7 Water Utility Dispatcher: (434) 970-3800.
For general/non-emergency water quality inquires, please contact the Water Operations Program Coordinator during normal work hours via email or phone (434-970-3805).

Water Discoloration

If you notice your water has a brownish or rusty color, your water my have come in contact with rust or iron. This can occur if there is a water main break or if your own plumbing is outdated. This problem is likely not harmful although the water might have an unpleasant look and taste. If you experience this problem, flush your entire water system by opening up all water fixtures on COLD only for 10 - 15 minutes. Clean out your fixtures like any faucet aerators. Repeat the flushing step again if the problem persists. If the water is still discolored after flushing two times, please call our Water Utility Dispatcher (434-970-3800). 


Chlorine is added to the water at the treatment plant by RWSA to disinfect the water and get rid of any harmful bacteria and germs. Chlorine is needed in the water so that when it travels miles of pipes to your home it stays clean and bacteria free. Therefore, there is always very low levels of chlorine in the water, which is a good sign that the water is clean and safe to drink. A simple ways reduce chlorine flavor and smalls from tap water is to store water from your cold faucet in a refrigerator. The chlorine will dissipate when exposed to the air and also colder water has less noticeable flavor. Make sure you are using a good, clean water container as some containers can impart their own flavors onto water.

Milky or Bubbly Water

If your water appears milky or full of tiny bubbles it is just means there is an excess of air in your water. Milky water can occur particularly when it is cold out as when the water enters your warm home, the oxygen in the water wants to escape and has a milky/fizzy appearance. These air bubbles are not harmful, and a simple way to remove this from you water is to let a glass of water site and allow the oxygen bubbles to dissipate.

Black Particles

The most common cause of black particles in your tap water is the result of rubber materials used in plumbing fixtures (like o-rings or gaskets) disintegrating over time. Some of the disintegrated rubber can collect in toilet tanks and around faucets or in aerators. Replacing rubber plumbing fixtures and cleaning your water fixtures regularly can help prevent this problem. 

Pink Slime

Bacteria and molds love moist environments like your bathtub, sink drains, and bathroom fixtures. The pink slime you see is caused by microbial growth on these surfaces. The best way to prevent pink slime from occurring is to regularly clean and disinfect your common household products. Some slime growths can be irritant to people, so it is best to disinfect and scrub these areas when you notice bacteria and mold growth. For more information on molds in your house associated with water check out our sister water authority's website: ACSA.

Water Testing

RWSA regularly tests the water supplied to the City throughout the day, every day. They also collect water samples through out the City regularly to test as well. You an access our current water quality data in our Annual Water Quality Report.
If you would like further water testing you can contact our Water Operations Program Coordinator, who can give you a list of water testing companies in the area via email or phone (434-970-3805). 

To find out more about RWSA's water testing and water treatment process please go to their website: http://www.rivanna.org/what-we-do/drinking-water/

Questions Regarding your Drinking Water?

For emergencies regarding your water quality please contact our 24/7 Water Utility Dispatcher: (434) 970-3800.

For non-emergencies and general inquiries about your water quality, please contact the Water Operations Program Coordinator via email or phone (434) 970-3805.

Ragged Mountain Dam October 23 2015