Discolored Water

Road construction, main breaks and water main flushing can all cause changes in water pressure. That pressure change sometimes stirs up mineral sediment in nearby water mains, causing discolored water. The minerals that most often lead to discolored water in Madison are iron and manganese, which naturally occur in our sandstone aquifer. 

What should you do? 

  • Run the cold water tap in the lowest level of your home or building until the water runs clear.
  • If you have a basement sink, that's a great spot.
  • It helps to turn the cold water tap on all the way, flushing the discolored water out as quickly as possible.
  • If your water does not clear after 15 to 20 minutes, call our dispatch line at (608) 266-4661.

While discolored water is not harmful, we generally recommend that people avoid using it for cooking or drinking.

Water Main (Hydrant) Flushing Program

To improve water quality and minimize discoloration, City of Madison water mains are comprehensively flushed by a technique known as unidirectional flushing. The procedure is performed in warm-weather months and involves the systematic opening and closing of hydrants, one section of main at a time, to force the water through the pipes at high velocity, removing accumulated mineral sediment until the water is clear. Flushing operations may also lead to discolored water if the water is being used during or immediately following the flushing. Find out more on our water main flushing information page.

Water Main Flushing
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