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Why is My Water Brown? FAQ

Why the Water is Brown

Your water is brown due to tiny rust particles made of iron. Under normal conditions, these particles lie undisturbed on the bottom of the pipes. When a disturbance occurs such as a water pipe break, it causes the water in the pipes to flow much faster than normal, which in turn, causes rust particles to be picked up off the bottom of the pipe and carried into the water. This can happen due to a broken water main, a fire in the neighborhood, routine flushing, or anything that causes the water in the pipes to move faster. 

Health Safety of Brown Water

Our lab has never found any harmful bacteria in rusty water. If you would like your water tested, our laboratory will gladly test it for you. Call the Division of Water Quality at 757-441-5678, we can usually respond the same day, and there is no charge for this service. 

Let the Water Clear

Flush using your cold water tap until the water runs clear. Typically, as you flush, the water will clear. In rare cases, it may take longer for water to run clear. Please try not to use your hot water until the water clears, this will keep sediment out of your water heater. 

Laundry Stains from Rusty Water
Do not add bleach, it will make the stain harder to remove. Laundry stains from rusty water can be removed with a special cleaning agent called "Rover". If you have stained laundry as a result of rusty water, please call our distributions customer service department at 757-823-1000 and request some "Rover". It's added to your wash just like detergent. Please read the instructions that are included.

What the Department of Utilities Does to Help
As soon as the Department of Utilities is notified of rusty water in the city lines, crews begin locating the source of the problem and correcting it. Remember, crews will respond as quickly as possible to resolve your water discoloration issue.

Additional Information 
If you need more information on the quality of Norfolk's drinking water, please contact the Division of Water Quality at 757-441-5678, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.