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Water Discoloration and Low Water Pressure FAQ

Water Quality 504

Water Discoloration

Are you experiencing water discoloration?

There are several reasons why water discoloration may occur. They include, but are not limited to:

- Water Main Breaks
- Water Line Breaks
- Valves That Control the Flow of Water at the Break Location
- Fire Hydrants During Fire Protection
- Routine Hydrant Flushing

Winter is the season where the extreme weather can cause water main breaks. This is not an uncommon occurrence and we do our best to limit the amount of disruption to our residents' water service.  Above all, we take our delivery of safe drinking water to our residents extremely seriously.
Occasionally, the operation of valves to control the flow of water at the break location may cause some sediment to become dislodged in the water mains and cause discoloration of the water. If this does occur, please run water in your bathtub or utility sink until the water clears.

Also, utilizing fire hydrants for fire protection can stir up the sediment, as well.

Periodically, the Department of Public Works conducts routine flushing of the City's fire hydrants. Hydrant flushing removes harmless mineral deposits that have accumulated in the water mains. This process also helps identify hydrants and valves in need of repair. During this flushing process, residents may experience discolored water and possibly a temporary drop in water pressure. The discolored water presents no health hazards.  It may, however, look cloudy or rusty. The end result is a cleaner and more efficient water transmission system for all residents and businesses in Oak Park.

If you do experience any discoloration we recommend running the cold water in the laundry tub or bathtub for about five minutes until the water color appears clear. It is recommended that you wait for the water to become clear before washing clothes or dishes. 

Under these conditions, even though the water is discolored and has some sediment, the water still contains chlorine residual and is safe. If, for any reason, you suspect that your water is unsafe, please call the Department of Public Works at (248) 691-7497 so our crews can investigate. Upon investigation, if for any reason we suspect the water is not safe, we will issue a boil water alert and notify everyone as soon possible through email eblast, social media posts (Facebook and Twitter @CityOfOakPark), and emergency alerts on the website (

Low Water Pressure

At certain times of the day or at times of high demand, residents may experience lower than normal water pressures.  This is typical and the pressures should go back to normal within a few hours.  Nearby construction and/or hydrant use can also lower water pressures in certain areas of the city.  If you even have water pressure concerns, please call the Department of Public Works at (248) 691-7497.

Frequently Asked Questions

My water Is cloudy And is milky colored. What should I do?

This is typically the air in the line. If you run your water for a short time, it should clear. If not, call the Department of Public Works at (248) 691-7497.

My water has a reddish tint. What should I do?

The reddish tint is iron oxide from the water distribution system. Sudden changes in the system, such as when a fire hydrant is opened, or the when the water main valves are opened and closed, can stir up the iron oxide sediments and cause temporary discoloration. If you run your water for a short time it should clear. If not call the Department of Public Works at (248) 691-7497 and a crew will be sent to flush the line. City crews flush the system through fire hydrants during the year to minimize the build up of sediment in the water mains, which helps reduce chances of discolored water. Even though the water is discolored and has sediments, chlorine, a disinfectant, is still present and the water is safe.

The reddish water caused a load of clothes to be discolored. What should I do?

You can pick up a special laundry detergent from the Department of Public Works or Water Department. Use this product according to the directions, and this will remove discoloration from the clothes. Please keep the clothes wet until the product is can be applied.

I think I have a water leak, what should I do?

The homeowner is responsible for the pipes within the house, as well as the water service line from the house to the connection at the property line. If you see water coming out of the ground or street, please call (248) 691-7497.

What is the best way to turn the water off at my house in an emergency or for repairs?

You can turn the water off inside your home/building, at the main valve located where the water service enters house/building. Closing and opening the two valves on both sides of the water meter once or twice per year will allow for an easy turn off in the event of an emergency. If you cannot turn your water off and need emergency assistance, please call (248) 691-7497.

Can I paint the fire hydrant near my house to make it more decorative?

No. The yellow color of the fire hydrants is designed to make it stand out from its surroundings and make it easily identified by Public Safety Officers. Also, the colored band around the hydrant identifies the size of the water main it is connected to and the flow that can be expected from that particular hydrant.

There are colored paint marks in the grass, sidewalk, and road in my neighborhood. What does this mean?

These paint marks were placed by Miss Dig locating crews, and they identify the location of underground utilities. Red indicates electric, orange indicates telephone or cable television, yellow indicates gas, blue indicates water, and green or brown indicates sewer.

There is a City crew working in my neighborhood. They have cut and removed the pavement, but they are not digging. Why aren't they finishing the job?

State law forbids the beginning of any excavation without the underground utilities being marked. If there is broken water main, a call is made to Miss Dig for an emergency location at the site. It may take two to three hours for the locators to arrive at the site. The crew may remain on the job site, and even start breaking and removing pavement while waiting for the locators. As soon as the locators arrive, the work will resume.

Sewage is backing up into my basement, who should I call or what should I do?

You can call the Department of Public Works at (248) 691-7497. We will send a crew out to determine if the city sewer line you are connected to has a blockage. If the blockage is in your house lateral we will advise you to call a plumber.

What can I do to prevent sewer back ups?

Be careful what you put in the sewer. Several items that should not be put into the sewer system are paper towels, diapers, grease and any item that will not dissolve. Be sure any rain water from gutters and down spouts runs away from your home.

To download these questions and answers, visit Frequently Asked Questions About Water.