Water Quality FAQs

Why does my water appear milky or cloudy?

A milky or cloudy appearance is usually caused by air bubbles in the water, which pose no health risk. If the water is allowed to sit, the air will dissipate and the water will clear. If the cloudiness does not disappear, please contact our Customer Service Center so that we may investigate.

What causes the spots on my dishes?

Spots are caused by water hardness minerals (mainly calcium and magnesium), which remain after the water has evaporated.  Spots can be eliminated through use of a dishwasher rinse agent.

Should I buy a water softener?

The hardness of water varies with the water's source. 0-75 ppm hardness is generally considered "soft" water, 75-150 ppm is "moderately hard," 150-300 ppm is "hard," and > 300 ppm is "very hard."  The choice to buy a softener is an aesthetic one, since hard water is not harmful to health. However, water softeners typically increase the sodium content of the water, a factor that should be considered by people on low-sodium diets.

Should I buy a home filtration unit?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, home treatment units are rarely necessary for health reasons. Most often, water treatment units are used to remove substances that affect the aesthetic qualities of the water. If you do choose to install a home treatment unit, it is important to follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions, because improperly maintained units can actually cause water quality problems.

What should I do if my coffee has an oily appearance?

Clean your coffee maker with vinegar and water as directed by the manufacturer.

What causes odor in the hot water?

The most common cause of odor in hot water is the water heater. If your cold water smells fine, check your water heater to ensure that the temperature setting is correct. Water heaters also need to be maintained (see manufacturer's instructions). Please contact us via email or call our 24-hour customer service number if the odor persists or if it is present in both the hot and cold water.

What causes some water to be discolored?

Color in water is usually caused by naturally occurring organic matter, minerals, or mineral build-up in the pipes. At Washington Water, we flush our water systems regularly to clean mineral build-up and other sediment from the pipes. If you receive discolored water, you should let your faucets run until the water is clear. Such substances typically do not pose a health hazard; however, we ask that you please report any instances of discolored water to our Customer Service Center so that we may investigate.

Is bottled water higher quality than tap water?

Tap water providers and bottled water providers must meet the same water quality standards. In fact, tap water providers are required to conduct more frequent water quality testing and reporting than bottled water providers. Some consumers prefer the taste of bottled water, and some choose bottled water because they have special health needs. But tap water is a much better deal, costing 1,000 times less than bottled water.

Why do Washington Water employees open fire hydrants?

Washington Water conducts regular water system flushing to remove any mineral build-up and sediment from the pipes and also to ensure that water circulates adequately throughout the system. Fire hydrants may also be opened to conduct fire-flow capability tests.

Why does water need to be disinfected?

Disinfectants are required because they prevent the spread of germs that cause diseases. Years ago, before disinfectants were used for drinking water, diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery were common. Drinking water disinfection has vastly improved the quality and safety of drinking water.

Why does my water have a chlorine taste (or smell)?

Chlorine is typically added to your water for disinfection purposes (to kill any bacteria that may be present), but can also be used as an oxidant to remove odors such as naturally-occurring hydrogen sulfide ("rotten eggs") or as an aid in the iron and manganese removal process.  To reduce any chlorine taste or smell, try refrigerating your water before drinking.  If the chlorine odor or taste is unusually high (i.e., not normal for your water system), please call our Customer Service Center and we will check into it. 

Why is there dirt or sand in my water?

Dirt or sand can occur naturally in groundwater or as a result of a water line repair. We try to reduce the instances of dirt or sand in the water through regular flushing, which improves water quality by increasing the circulation of water in the pipes and removing most of the sediment from the water.

Why does the taste of my water change throughout the year?

In some of our service areas, water sources change at certain times of the year due to the availability of supplies. Surface water, or water that comes from sources like rivers and lakes, tends to taste slightly different than water pumped from underground aquifers.