Reduction in Discolored Water Reports in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties

Drinking Water Continues to Meet Regulatory Standards

| News Release



Laurel – April 10, 2015 – The number of WSSC customers reporting discolored drinking water in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties has dropped in recent days and all testing continues to show that the drinking water poses no health risk.

WSSC has increased sampling at the water plants and throughout the distribution system. WSSC’s drinking water continues to meet or surpass the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Safe Drinking Water Act requirements for safety and quality. 

WSSC scientists believe that the discolored water is linked to the harsh winter. The increased sampling shows a higher than usual level of the element manganese, which can be attributed to road salts that are applied to icy winter roads. Manganese does not pose a health risk at levels observed in drinking water. However, at relatively low concentrations, manganese can cause black- to brown-colored water, stain laundry and have a bitter taste while high levels of chlorides can cause a salty taste in water.   

WSSC activated an additional treatment system to the water treatment process that is designed to decrease the level of manganese in the tap water. Since then the number of customers reporting discolored water has diminished and test results have shown decreasing levels of manganese throughout the distribution system. It can take up to two weeks for treated water to move from the filtration plant to the farthest customers in the WSSC system. WSSC will continue to conduct increased sampling and monitoring at the filtration plant and throughout the distribution system until manganese levels return to normal.

Since the increase in discolored water calls began, the highest number of calls in a single day was 84. Yesterday, WSSC received 26 discolored water calls. There are a total of 460,000 accounts in the WSSC system serving approximately 1.8 million customers. WSSC continues to have crews flush the water mains in the neighborhood of every call by opening up fire hydrants.

If you are still experiencing discolored water, please call the 24-hour service line at 301.206.4002 or send an email to Not only can WSSC send customer service representatives to flush the water mains, but also this helps WSSC scientists gather more information about discolored water incidents and make better recommendations.

Discolored water is safe to drink for healthy individuals. However, customers with compromised immune systems (such as cancer patients undergoing treatment, HIV-positive individuals, transplant recipients, seniors and infants) should take the same precautions they normally take with regular tap water and/or seek advice from their physician before consuming discolored water.

WSSC does not recommend using discolored water to do laundry. If clothing gets stained, immediately wash the clothes again using a rust remover product. This type of product is available in most supermarkets or you may contact WSSC at 301-206-4001 or contact us online and request a stain remover. For better results, do not let the clothes dry.

Throughout the year, WSSC tests the water more than 500,000 times at water treatment plants and throughout the distribution system, allowing WSSC to guarantee that the safest water reaches customers.

Additional information on discolored water can be found by visiting our FAQ page. Customers can also read our latest Water Quality Report.

WSSC Water is the proud provider of safe, seamless and satisfying water services, making the essential possible every day for our neighbors in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We work to deliver our best because it’s what our customers expect and deserve.

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