Water Discoloration Information and Reporting Instructions
Our system's water is sourced from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. The particular area of the aquifer we have access to contains higher levels of naturally occurring iron. This iron is not a contaminant but is officially considered a "nuisance" or "known constituent." The iron content is such that the State of Texas requires our water to be treated either by filtering or sequestering.
For over 30 years, S.S. Water Supply Corporation has been using the sequestering method to treat for iron. When the water is pumped out of the ground you can't see the iron particles with the naked eye, but when the iron is oxidized it will discolor the water from a slight yellow to a red color if no treatment method is used.
We treat our water with a chemical known as a polyphosphate to "sequester" the iron to keep it from oxidizing (seeing the iron discoloration). And like most water utilities, we use chlorine to disinfect our water. But chlorine is also a potent oxidizer, and when you mix an oxidizer with iron in the water, you end up with yellow to red water discoloration. This treatment method works 99 percent of the time, and is an iron treatment method approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for mitigating this water quality issue.
If and when a system-wide water filtration system is finally placed into service, the potential for discolored water will not decrease for several years due to iron deposits coating the inside of the nearly 400 miles of water main in our distribution system. This coating is a result of the polyphosphate working to coat/stick the oxidized iron to the PVC water mains, preventing this oxidized iron from getting in the water.
We will continue using the sequestration method of treating the iron in our water since it works 99 percent of the time and is cost effective. The process of adding polyphosphates to the water causes some iron to oxidize and coat the inside of the main lines, and whenever we experience a water main break, an increased water velocity situation (as in opening a fire hydrant), or during periods of heavy use (during the summer months), some of this iron coating can become dislodged. We actively flush our system to try and prevent this, but try as we might the possibility of water discoloration coming through your taps will always be a distinct possibility.
There are some maintenance steps that homeowners can take to help mitigate iron discoloration. If you experience discolored water, you can open your outside faucets for 5-10 minutes to flush the discolored water out of your plumbing. That is why we include 2,000 gallons of water with each minimum water bill charge every month to allow for flushing purposes. We also recommend water heaters be flushed at least once a year, if not more frequently. And please note that Member-installed home filtration systems may require more frequent filter changes above and beyond what the manufacturer recommends. But if after flushing your lines you still wish to have us flush out the main line nearest your home, please fill out the contact form that the button below will take you to report a discoloration episode. Please include "Water Main Flush" in the Subject Line. A Work Order will then be created to flush the main line.