Naturally occurring minerals (primarily iron and manganese) in the water are typically to blame for water discolouration. These minerals, which are heavier than water, settle in water mains under normal operating conditions. When water flow in the water mains increases due to events such as water main breaks, firefighting or water main flushing, the minerals are scoured from the water mains and end up flowing from your faucets when you turn on the tap. Below are some frequently asked questions about discoloured water.
If you are experiencing discoloured water, please call our Customer Care Centre at 902-420-9287 to find out if there has been any water main work done in your area recently.
Use the survey below to report discoloured drinking water where you are observing it so our Water Quality and Water Operations teams can investigate as soon as possible. To open the survey in a new window, click here.
If discolouration occurs, run the COLD water at one faucet for about 10 minutes. You should see the water clear.
Do not use the hot water faucet since this will draw discoloured water into your hot water heater/tank, which could make the problem worse.
If the water fails to clear after 10 minutes, wait for a few hours and again try running only the cold water. If the water is still discoloured, fill out our discoloured drinking water survey above or contact our Customer Care Centre at 902-420-9287. Running the water for 10 minutes at the high flow rate for a faucet will cost about 8 cents at current water rates (or 50 cents per hour).
Halifax Water has analyzed samples of discoloured water, and although it may not smell, taste, or look pleasant, the results have indicated that there are no microbial issues with the water, such as presence of disease-causing bacteria, protozoa or viruses.
Halifax Water recommends that you not use discoloured water for any purposes that require clean water, such as for drinking, preparing food and beverages, or laundry.
Discoloured water doesn’t usually last long. Water main work in the area or water main flushing may cause water to be discoloured for under an hour. However, under certain circumstances, discoloured water may persist for several hours. If your water is not clear after two or three hours, contact our Customer Care Centre at 902-420-9287.
Halifax Water’s drinking water is tested each step of the way, from the source to the tap, to ensure safe, high-quality drinking water. We use nationally accredited laboratories for the tests and we do more sampling than required by our regulator. In compliance with Provincial regulations, Halifax Water continuously maintains a disinfectant residual in all water supplied to ensure customer safety. We work closely with Nova Scotia Environment and the Medical Officer of Health on all matters pertaining to the safety of municipal drinking water.
Don’t dry them in the dryer or rewash in hot water before treating the stains. Heat sets the stains and makes them difficult or impossible to remove.
Don't use chlorine bleach to attempt to remove rust stains. Chlorine will make the stain worse.
Rewash the clothes in clear water as soon as it is available with a heavy-duty detergent.
There are a number of commercial stain removing products that can remove rust stains. Handle with care and use according to the manufacturers’ direction. Rinse the clothes thoroughly after treating with a stain remover.