Back-Flow   Contact Us   Web Links   SUM Home   Employee login 
Southwestern Utility Management, Inc. Southwestern Utility Management, Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Why does my tap water appear milky or cloudy in color?
What causes the spots on my dishes?
Should I buy a water softener?
Should I buy a home filtration unit?
What should I do if my coffee has an oily appearance?
What causes odor in the hot water?
What causes some water to be discolored?
Is bottled water higher quality than tap water?
Why do our employees open fire hydrants?
Why does water need to be disinfected?
Why does my water have a chlorine taste (or smell)?
Why is there dirt or sand in my water?
Why does the taste of my water change throughout the year?

Q: Why does my tap water appear milky or cloudy in color?
A: Milky white water, also commonly described as cloudy, hazy, soapy, or foamy, is almost always caused by air in the water. One of the many properties of water is its ability to dissolve gases. Sometimes the air comes out of the water in the form of many tiny bubbles which gives water a milky white appearance. To see if the white color in the water is due to air, fill a clear glass with water and set it on the counter. Observe the glass of water for 2 or 3 minutes. If the white color is due to air, the water will begin to clear at the bottom of the glass first, then gradually to the top. This is a natural phenomenon and is completely normal - the water is safe to use. This can happen in the springtime when the weather begins to warm, anytime there is a significant heat wave, or whenever the water has been turned off for repairs. Cold water holds more dissolved air than warm water. In the spring, the water supply in our reservoirs is cold and contains a relatively high level of dissolved air. As the water moves through the water mains in the streets and the pipes in your house, it begins to warm and lose some of its ability to keep the air dissolved. However, because the water is under pressure in the pipes, the air remains in the water. When you relieve the pressure by opening the faucet and filling your glass with water, the air is free to escape from the water, giving it a milky appearance for a few minutes. This same set of circumstances can cause your hot water to be cloudy.

Milky white water can also form after the Water Utility has worked on a water main or you have had work done on your plumbing. When the water is shut off, air can get in the water main or your pipes. When the water pressure is restored, some of that air dissolves into the water. When you again relieve the pressure by opening the faucet, the air is free to escape from the water, thus giving it a milky white appearance for a few minutes. This phenomenon will usually last from several days to several weeks, depending on many different factors.

Back to Top

   
Q: What causes the spots on my dishes?
A: Spots are caused by hard water, or minerals that remain after the water has evaporated. Spots can be eliminated through use of a dishwasher rinse agent.

Back to Top

   
Q: Should I buy a water softener?
A: The hardness of water varies with the water’s source. 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.

Back to Top

   
Q: Should I buy a home filtration unit?
A: 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.

Back to Top

   
Q: What should I do if my coffee has an oily appearance?
A: Clean your coffee maker with vinegar and water as directed by the manufacturer.

Back to Top

   
Q: What causes odor in the hot water?
A: 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 if the odor persists or if it is present in both the hot and cold water.

Back to Top

   
Q: What causes some water to be discolored?
A: Color in water is usually caused by naturally occurring organic matter, minerals, or mineral build-up in the pipes. We flush our water system 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 so that we may investigate.

Back to Top

   
Q: Is bottled water higher quality than tap water?
A: 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 at costs of 1,000 times less than bottled water.

Back to Top

   
Q: Why do our employees open fire hydrants?
A: We conduct 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.

Back to Top

   
Q: Why does water need to be disinfected?
A: 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.

Back to Top

   
Q: Why does my water have a chlorine taste (or smell)?
A: We disinfect your water to ensure that it is free of harmful bacteria. To reduce any chlorine taste or smell, try refrigerating your water before drinking.

Back to Top

   
Q: Why is there dirt or sand in my water?
A: 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.

Back to Top

   
Q: Why does the taste of my water change throughout the year?
A: 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.

Back to Top