CFPUA: Water discoloration, smell not tied to water quality
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is receiving reports from customers being served by emergency wells that the water is discolored or has a sulfur-like smell. While officials say it’s disconcerting, the water is safe.
CFPUA Spokesman Mike McGill says the chlorine level in the drinking water throughout our system is at a level that assures water safety. CFPUA implemented use of emergency wells in consultation with local and state regulators. McGill says they are constantly testing the water to ensure its safety.
Because the issues are noticeable, CFPUA has posted a list of FAQs about water discoloration and odor on their website. There’s also a map of the areas where customers might be affected by the situation.
Discolored water contains an accumulation of sediment and/or deposits within pipes. Water steadily flowing at an even pace in one direction does not disturb these deposits. However, if the water suddenly flows very fast or reverses direction due, sediment and deposits can be stirred up, resulting in discoloration. Visible particles are generally an accumulation of iron.
CFPUA’s use of emergency interconnects during portions of this event changed the direction of some of the water flow in a few areas, resulting in some discoloration. The water may not be aesthetically pleasing but it is safe to drink. The loosening of the sediment or deposits will stop after we have restored the regular use of the water system; the water will then begin to run clear. However, this could take several more days once the system returns to normal.
Significant portions of CFPUA’s system are currently receiving drinking water from emergency wells. The water supplied by the wells has a different, but safe, composition than the water supplied by our two main drinking water treatment plants.
Water heaters are interacting with the well water in a way that brings out a sulfur smell when they are in use. The typical heat level inside of a water heater produces a reaction with the well water that reveals the smell. The smell is not a sign of diminished quality; it is purely an aesthetic issue. The interaction is also temporary. Once the water supply is returned to levels where we can stop the use of the emergency wells, you will see the water return to its previous condition.