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Tap Water Discoloration FAQs

Why may I experience discolored water when my business/building re-opens?
Due to lack of water flow as a result of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, water pipes within buildings may contain a sediment build-up after not being used for an extended period. Mineral deposits, such as iron, can be stirred up within the water system as water begins to flow again.

Does the discolored water pose a health hazard?
Discolored water as a result of mineral build-up does not pose a health hazard.

Can I do anything about the discoloration?
Although your water will be safe, we recommend that you run your faucets for 5 to 10 minutes until the water is cool and clear. If the discolored water does not clear up after running your tap for a few minutes, contact OUC at 407-434-4213.

If my child or pet drinks the discolored tap water, should I be concerned?
Absolutely not. Although the water may be discolored, it is safe to drink.

Is the discolored water safe for plants?

Can I do laundry with discolored water?
We recommend you check your water quality prior to running laundry, as the discolored water can stain your clothing. Do your laundry only if the water is running clear.

Does OUC proactively flush mains to avoid this issue?
Yes, OUC maintains potable water distribution pipes through a Unidirectional Flushing (UDF), which involves using high-velocity, clean water from area fire hydrants to flush any naturally occurring sediment that has built up over time. The process isolates portions of the distribution system to achieve water flow in one direction. However, OUC only has access up to the meter, and does not flush privately-owned pipes.

Does OUC proactively flush beyond the water meter?
No, OUC flushes only water mains that are part of the water distribution system.

Does OUC frequently test the quality of its water?
Yes, OUC’s state-certified water lab annually conducts thousands of chemical and bacteriological water-quality tests, including tests for more than 135 regulated and unregulated substances like lead and copper.

Where does OUC water come from?
OUC’s drinking water comes from the Lower Floridan aquifer, a well-protected reservoir located hundreds of feet below ground. We treat this high-quality water with ozone, the strongest disinfectant available, and add fluoride to promote healthy teeth.

What can a building owner or landlord do to avoid this issue?
  • Flush your water pipes.
    • Flush hot water lines at every tap for several minutes, then flush cold water lines at every tap for several minutes. Consider draining water heaters, then flushing the lines once the heating tank has re-filled.
    • Restaurants, in particular, should flush all kitchen lines, including sinks, dishwashers, ice makers and similar appliances. Restaurants should also consider emptying and re-filling ice makers and similar appliances that pull water directly from water taps.
  • Check your hot water system.
    • Set your hot water heater at 120 degrees F. When flushing hot water taps, run the water until it reaches its highest temperature.
  • Take steps before reopening.