The Drinking Water Spectrum

October 12, 2017

Clean and treated water is usually clear. While color does not always mean water is unsafe, it can sometimes indicate a problem. Here’s a quick look at the spectrum of tinted water and the responsible contaminants.

•Red or Brown can mean iron or manganese has found its way into the water distribution system. In Winnipeg people with brown water coming from their taps complained of stained sinks and discolored laundry. According to the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, no evidence exists of dietary iron toxicity in the general population.

•Yellow is more common to surface water and shallow wells, particularly where water has passed through marshlands and moved through peat soils

•Blue or green water can indicate the presence of copper, and it too can stain fixtures and laundry. The guidelines say plumbing should be thoroughly flushed before water is used for consumption.

•Cloudy white water is usually caused by turbidity, or finely divided inorganic or organic particles. Increases in distribution system turbidity can be indicative of deteriorating water quality and should be investigated