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Water Utility FAQs

Pima County Regional Wastewater FAQs

Water Quality

Your cold water is hot because your pipes or intrastructure are only  a few inches below the surface; they heat up naturally with hot weather. 

Sediment or the corrosion of iron pipes causes water to appear rusty, yellow or brown colored. If the discoloration occurs at only one tap, it is an indication of possible internal plumbing problems. If you see the color at all of the faucets, the rusty color is coming from the water main in the street. Run all of the cold water taps until the water runs clear, up to 10 minutes. If problem persists, contact the Oro Valley Water Utility.

The black particles are likely the result of the disintegration of the float in the toilet tank. The float is especially likely to break down over time if you use an automatic toilet bowl cleaner in the tank. Also, the black particles could be coming from the hot water system, such as the water heater.

The particles are most likely the result of a disintegrating dip tube in your water heater. Some water heaters have a dip tube made of polypropylene or polyvinylchloride that can disintegrate over time. Your water heater may need routine maintenance or replacement.

The pink growth or stain is the result of a mold or a bacterium, specifically, Serratia marcescens. The mold is present in the air. Mold and bacteria grow wherever there is a warm, moist or humid environment, like a tub or showerhead. Regular cleaning with bleach or a cleaner that removes mildew will clear the mold. Wipe away standing water to reduce growth.

Copper plumbing is a source of colored water. When water stands in copper pipe, the water may absorb some of the copper, making it appear blue. This is most common when the pipe is new.

Water hardness in the Oro Valley area ranges from 30 ppm to 110 ppm. Hard water is high in dissolved minerals, both calcium and magnesium. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves small amounts of these naturally-occurring minerals and carries them into the ground water supply. Hard water interferes with almost every cleaning task, from doing the laundry to washing dishes to taking a shower. Clothes can look dingy and feel rough and scratchy. Dishes and glasses get spotted and a film may build up on shower doors, bathtubs, sinks and faucets.

Hardness does not pose a health risk and is not regulated by state or federal agencies. In fact, calcium and magnesium in your drinking water can help ensure you get the average daily requirements for these minerals in your diet.

Hard water can be treated by adding a water softener to laundry and the dishwasher or by installing an ion-exchange system to treat all of your household water. Ion exchange can increase the sodium content of the water, which may pose health concerns for your household.

The following classifications are used to measure hardness in water:

  • Soft 0 to 75 parts per million
  • Moderately Hard 75 to 150 parts per million
  • Hard 150 to 300 parts per million
  • Very Hard more than 300 parts per million

To convert hardness levels in parts per million to hardness in grains per gallon, divide by 17.1.

This is a very common problem in the summer months; water pipes acclimate to the temperature around them, so when our temperatures get so high in the summer, the water pipes absorb heat from the ground around them and the temperature of the water also increases. The water will never be totally cold in the summertime because of the high temperatures.

Chlorine, used for disinfecting the water, may produce a harmless taste and odor. Other causes may be bacteria growing in your water heater if it has been sitting unused or corrosion in the water heater internal anode. The most common odor causing problem comes from the drain. Over time, soap, hair, and food can accumulate on the walls of the drain, creating bacteria that release sewer smelling gasses.

It’s necessary to flush fire hydrants to maintain water quality. High velocity water helps to clean and scour the interior of the pipes. It flushes accumulated sediments out of the system, removes stale water and restores chlorine residual. It also ensures the operability of the fire protection system.

This may happen when a water leak has been repaired or a fire hydrant has been flushed in the area. Sediment is disturbed in the water mains resulting in the brown, rust color tap water. This colored water is not a health concern and can be eliminated by letting the water run for a few minutes until the water runs clear.

Typically milky, cloudy water is the result of air in the water distribution system. The cloudiness are millions of tiny air bubbles that disappear in a matter of 2-3 minutes. As the bubbles surface to the top, the water becomes clear.