Common Water Complaints

Black / Gray / Brown Color

Usually caused by manganese that is dislodged off water mains during unexpected changes in water velocity. Manganese is a naturally occurring substance in Amesbury's water source that is not health concern, but an aesthetic issue. Levels typically spike during the summer season. The water treatment plant has several treatments to remove manganese, but during extreme conditions manganese removal may not be efficient. Bi-annual hydrant flushing can alleviate most of the accumulated manganese in the water mains.

Rusty Water

Originates from old unlined cast iron water mains that still exist in Amesbury's distribution system. Rust tuberculation forms on the unlined portions of iron pipe and be sloughed off during water breaks or uses of hydrants during firefighting. Iron, like manganese is not a health concern, but aesthetically displeasing. Amesbury adjusts the pH and adds a blended phosphate to help control rust. Also, twice a year the distribution is cleared out with hydrant flushing.

Milky Water

White/milky water is simply just microbubbles of air. Occasional rapid changes in temperature in the water can cause the air that is in the water to release. This typically happens in the spring or fall. During water breaks, air will become trapped in the repaired distribution main and cause milky appearing water. The air dissipate quickly if you the leave the water out. If the problem persists after a water main repair, it might be necessary to purge the air with hydrant flushing.

Bleach Odor

Chlorine is added at the water treatment facility to disinfect the water, which ensures biological safety. Chlorine levels decrease the further you are away from the water treatment facility. Regulations dictate that there must be a certain residual of chlorine in the distribution system, so stronger or weaker odors may be experienced. The chlorine odor will clear up if left out on the counter.

Smelly Water

This complaint usually arises from not the water but the drain in the sink. Drain traps will accumulate a scum over time and when the water starts to flow down it will produce bad smells. A simple check is to bring the glass of water away from the sink and try to detect the odor. A remedy would be to have the drain trap cleaned professionally or use an over the counter cleaner.

Low Pressure

Low water pressure may be from several sources:

  • Water main break - Corrective action: Wait for repair to finish.
  • Firefighting - Corrective action: Wait to be done.
  • Blocked meter screen - This may occur after a water main repair. Corrective action: Call the Water Department at 978-388-0853.
  • Blocked faucet aerator - This may occur after a water main repair. Corrective action: Remove aerator to clear debris.
  • Obstructed water service line - Mostly due old galvanized water pipes that have blocked due to corrosion. Corrective action: Call the Water Department to determine the issue at 978-388-0853.
  • Leaking water service line - Usually it will surface to indicate a leak. Corrective action: Call the Water Department to determine the issue 978-388-0853.
  • Higher elevation - Pressure in the distribution system is produced by the elevation of the water tank on Po Hill. The higher elevation in relation to the water tank, the lower the water pressure. Corrective action: Other than installing a booster pump there is no other solution.

High Pressure

This again is due to the relation in elevation to the water tank. The lower the elevation will produce higher pressure. For example, areas of Pleasant Valley Road could experience 120 psi. Corrective action: Installing a pressure reducer will reduce the pressure.