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Drinking Water Quality Questions

Arlington Water Utilities is proud to produce drinking water that meets, and often exceeds, the well-researched standards set by the US EPA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. For detailed information about the quality of Arlington’s drinking water, visit our 2017 Water Quality Report at www.arlingtontx.gov/water/ccr.

Past year’s reports are also available by clicking the links below:

Water Quality Report 2013 • Water Quality Report 2014Water Quality Report 2015 Water Quality Report 2016

For any questions concerning Water Quality or the Treatment process, please call: 817-575-8984 or fax: 817-496-4133. You can also ask questions by sending a direct message to the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arlingtonwater.

Arlington Water experienced taste and odor issues in February 2017 due to seasonal algae activity in Lake Arlington. More information is available here.

Here are some answers to common questions:
My water sometimes appears cloudy or milky when I first turn on the tap. Why? This can be caused by tiny air bubbles that are in the water. It is common for this to happen when it’s colder outside or the water pressure changes because air becomes more soluble in water under these conditions. Once the water comes out of your tap, the water is no longer under pressure and the air comes out of solution as bubbles. Cloudy water caused by tiny air bubbles is not harmful to health. An easy way to test whether the cloudiness is caused by air bubbles is to fill a clear glass with water and let it sit on the counter for a minute. If the cloudiness clears from the bottom to the top, then you can be assured that this is air dissipating from your water.

A fire hydrant on my block was open and gushing water. Why would you do that? The practice of opening a fire hydrant and letting the water run for several minutes is known as flushing. This practice improves water quality and ensures you are getting the freshest, highest quality water to your home. Build-up of sediment can occur in mains and flushing can help minimize any discoloration or sediment in your water. If you notice sediment or discoloration in your water, try letting the tap run for several minutes. If this does not clear up the issue, please notify the water department.

Why does my water smell musty sometimes? During certain times of the year, it is not uncommon to experience some taste and odor issues with your tap water. A naturally occurring compound called geosmin is produced by algae found in surface water. Extreme temperatures can kill off algae in surface water, which releases the geosmin into the water. While the taste and odor can be unpleasant, geosmin is not toxic or harmful. The water remains safe to drink. Heating the water increases the volatility of these compounds, which explains why the smell is more easily detected when you are in the shower or when water is used for hot beverages. To make the water taste better, try chilling it, adding ice cubes, a slice of lemon, or a few drops of lemon juice. And remember that the change in taste and odor is only temporary.

Should I be worried about lead in my drinking water? The City of Arlington tests for lead every three years at 50 sites across the city, as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Because of its history of testing results registering well below established limits, Arlington’s lead testing frequency was decreased from every six months to a three year schedule by the TCEQ. If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems,  especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. Arlington Water Utilities is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials use in plumbing components. Older homes (built before 1930) are more likely to have plumbing fixtures containing lead. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

What should I do if I see small black particles in my water? Usually, the culprit is a faucet or water heater in need of maintenance. If the problem is in just one faucet, it’s likely that the black, rubber o-ring at the tip of the faucet needs replacing because it is breaking apart. Problems in the water heater can come from deteriorating supply hoses or lime buildup.

What are the white particles or things that look like white pieces of paper clogging my plumbing fixtures? These are most probably one of two things. They may be bits of calcium carbonate scale coming from your water heater. The scaling may be worsened because the water heater thermostat is too high. Most  manufacturers recommend setting it at about 120°F.  If the particles are calcium carbonate, you probably need to flush your water heater.  Most manufacturers recommend that you do this twice per year. Also, they may be pieces of plastic from the dip tube in your water heater. The dip tube takes the cold water from the supply at the top of the tank down to the bottom of the tank to be heated. Some dip tubes were made of inferior plastic. The staff at the lab can help you determine whether it is scale or plastic.