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Discoloured water

The raw water in the Isle of Man is naturally coloured, soft and acidic. The intensity of the colour can vary depending upon the season and level of rainfall. All our water is treated at our treatment works, where all the colour caused by the dissolved organic matter, iron and manganese is removed.

If your water supply becomes discoloured you should:

If the problem persists, please contact us.  

What causes discoloured water?

In the Isle of Man there are occasional incidents of discoloured water. The most common reason for discoloured water on the Island is the disturbance of iron and manganese deposits that are present in the water mains. This can happen when water changes direction or speed. Changes in flow can occur for many reasons:

  • burst water main
  • opening or closing of valves
  • bringing a water main back into use after repairs
  • having to move water from one area to another to cope with changes in demand
  • heavy use in one area such as the use of water for fire fighting

These problems can turn the water orange, brown, black or grey. Excess air in the system may also cause the water to appear white.

Why are there deposits in the mains?

Over time deposits build up in the Island's water mains. The principle causes for this are as follows:

  • iron and manganese are present in the source water; inadequate treatment in the past through the decommissioned treatment plants has resulted in iron, manganese and other deposits forming in the mains
  • many of the water mains are cast iron and the older ones are unlined and have corroded. The iron corrosion particles (rust) become loose and can be carried through the network by the water

We deal with removal of deposits in the mains by lining or replacing the affected mains. 

Are these deposits harmful to health?

If the discolouration is due to mains deposits, these are mostly iron and manganese and, as such, are not likely to be harmful to your health. However, you may not wish to drink the water or give it to your family because it looks or tastes unpleasant.

White water caused by excess air will clear from a glass of freshly poured water and is not something to worry about. Sometimes a white scum may form around the side of the glass. This is due to a phenomenon known as surface tension, which traps some of the tiny bubbles at the waters surface. The water is not likely to be harmful to your health. However, if the problem persists please contact us.

Washing

If your washing has been discoloured because of the water, repeat the wash when the water is not discoloured without adding fabric softener.

If your water remains discoloured then please get in touch with us.

Need Help? Contact Us Common water complaints