Well, orange at least.
The water in our house, and I’m guessing many of the houses around us, has been running various shades of orange for the last few hours.
I called the Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) consumer hotline to report the problem and got a call back from one of their Water Quality Specialists.
The problem we are seeing is rust dislodged from the interior of the pipes. This normally happens when a main or a hydrant is opened creating a very high pressure movement that dislodges much of the rust that has built up in the old iron pipes that distribute water on the hill.
Her advice was to turn off your cold water taps as and use as little cold water as possible. The rust will settle if the water disturbs it as little as possible. Running the cold water tap only exacerbates and prolongs the problem. She told me to avoid running any cold water for several hours so that the particles have time to settle.
Don’t wash or cook with the water as the rust will stain fabrics and make any food or drink containing it taste like ass.
When I mentioned to the SPU Water Quality Specialist that we saw the Fire Department opening the hydrants on the North-west corners of E Roy and 20th Ave E and E Roy and 21 Ave E a few hours ago, she confirmed that as the probable cause. I’m sure that they opened many other hydrants on the hill today also.
Of course the Fire Department doesn’t tell SPU when they are going to do this so there is no way to warn householders that they won’t be able to use their water for 3 to 6 hours.
I’m really feeling for my neighbors with young children and babies. As we have all seen they have a tendency to explode at both ends and having no water to wash and clean up those explosions is no picnic.
So everyone turn off your cold water and chill out for a few hours.
UPDATE: 6:30pm and the water is still murky as hell. It’s pretty gross when you flush a toilet and it was cleaner before the flush. Gack!