Dealing with cloudy drinking water.
My water is cloudy or brown coloured. Why is my water discoloured?
Heavy rainfalls can cause fine, silt materials to slide into the lakes where we draw our drinking water from. This silt is suspended in the drinking water and gives it a cloudy or brownish look. The water has entered the system and into your household taps.
What is turbidity?
Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of drinking water and it is reported in a unit called NTU.
Is turbid (discoloured) water acceptable to drink?
While the water may not look aesthetically pleasing, there is no evidence that the safety of the drinking water has been compromised. Local experience has shown that at the turbidity levels we are currently experiencing, the key strategy to ensure safe drinking water is maintenance of disinfection -- that is, the amount of chlorine residual in the water. During a turbidity warning, monitoring will be increased, as may the level of disinfection in the system.
Do I need to boil the water?
There is no need to boil your water unless a boil water advisory has been issued by medical health officers and/or the water has been determined to be unacceptable to drink.
Does a turbidity advisory affect businesses processing, preparing or selling foods?
Yes it might, if high quality source water (that is, free of suspended particles) is a requirement of your processes.
Does a turbidity advisory impact laboratories, medical offices or dental offices?
If you have equipment or processes that require a water supply that is free of any suspended matter or silt, you may be affected. If you have pre-filtration as part of your process, you may experience premature clogging of your filters or increased necessity to backwash the filters. Refer to your manufacturer/supplier's instructions to remedy this situation.
I have a water treatment system in my house. What information can you provide?
The fine silt particles tend to clog up the filters in many home and commercial filtration systems. If this occurs you would normally see a reduced flow and eventually no flow of water through the treatment systems. For example, fridge filters for ice makers and through the door water dispensers will likely clog up fairly quickly. Until the turbidity advisory is lifted it may be prudent to turn fridge ice makers and water dispensers off.
What can I do about ice, ice making, beverage and water units?
Ice makers, water dispensers and any other beverage dispenser connected to the affected municipal supplies may experience deterioration in the quality (and ultimately quantity) of the product. For example, given the expected level of suspended matter in the turbid water, most commercial filtration systems will be overwhelmed and are designed to shut down when the filter medium gets clogged. If the aesthetic characteristics of the ice, water or beverage are critical to your business you many need to arrange for alternate sources of clear water. In addition you may want to disconnect or turn off water dispensing machines, drinking fountains, ice/syrup machines, produce misters, ice-making units and soda machines until the turbidity event has passed. You will then need to flush your systems out and replace filters according to manufacturer's instructions.
How will I know when the turbidity advisory is lifted?
Once turbidity levels have returned to normal, a statement will be issued through the media.
What happens after the turbidity advisory is lifted?
You may need to change filters and re-start, flush or sanitize any water-using fixture or piece of equipment in accordance with the manufacturers' specifications. This may vary from fixture to fixture. Remember to include misters, ice makers (discard the first bin full) and beverage machines. Run cold water faucets and drinking fountains for three minutes each if they have not been used in the last 24 hours.