Yellow water? Here’s what Seattle Public Utilities says is going on

(WSB photo: Myrtle Reservoir, where the work’s happening underground)

After multiple reports of yellow, or otherwise discolored, water in different areas of West Seattle in recent days – we heard from people as far north as Admiral and as far south as Gatewood – we contacted Seattle Public Utilities this morning to find out what’s going on. Here’s what we’ve heard back from spokesperson Andy Ryan:

We are working to clear up discolored drinking water that has been reported in several sections of West Seattle over the past few days.

The cause of the discoloration is believed to be sediment that was stirred up due to a temporary change in water-system configuration.

Although the water is temporarily discolored, it is safe to drink. The discoloration is expected to clear up gradually over the next few days.

The utility will provide updates if anything changes.

Elaborating on the “configuration,” Ryan explains it’s because of the earthquake-resistance retrofitting (most recently mentioned here) that started earlier this month at Myrtle Reservoir, which is temporarily out of service because of the work, so they’ve rerouted water through a part of the system that they don’t often use.

Otherwise, discolored water turns up here and there every so often, for various reasons – usually we get a few reports from one area, so we point people to this SPU page with information about dealing with it (and the utility’s customer-service hotline if the problem persists – 206-684-3000), and that’s the end of it.

18 Replies to "Yellow water? Here's what Seattle Public Utilities says is going on"

  • sam-c September 25, 2015 (11:30 am)

    I thought something was up when I filled the bathtub last night. I knew I couldn’t blame the toddler for the yellow bath water cause I hadn’t put him in the tub yet.

  • bw September 25, 2015 (3:25 pm)

    We’ve had funky water on and off for a few weeks, here in Gatewood. Intermittently discolored and off tasting. Called to complain and get a refund. ya, right . . . the customer service person said there is no way to do a refund, if the water comes out of your tap, you pay for it whether or not it’s suitable to drink or not, LOL! I wish I could run my business like that. #MonopoliesSuck

  • Jon Wright September 25, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    Water that magically appears from my tap whenever I want is a little discolored but still perfectly safe. #FirstWorldProblems

  • Deborah K September 25, 2015 (5:17 pm)

    Same here in Highland Park area for over a week. Thanks for the info!

  • chas redmond September 25, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    There were several SPU trucks on Gatewood Hill (39th, 41st, Monroe, Elmgrove, et al.) this morning flushing fire hydrants. I stopped and talked with one of the SPU guys while the very brown water was spewing from the hydrant at 39th & Monroe and asked what it was. “Rust, from sitting around and not being used in a while,” was the response. So it seems like they’re recognizing the rerouting of water is using some settled pipes and now they’re flushing them. Frankly, hadn’t noticed up until the hydrant flushing.

  • Eddie September 26, 2015 (12:33 pm)

    Very yellow / orange water late morning Saturday west of the junction. Can’t bring myself to fill a glass with it.

  • Annie H September 26, 2015 (1:32 pm)

    If this is from sediment, why does it not settle out when I leave a sink full over night? I agree, it tastes weird and makes for weird coffee.

  • Ercolini mom September 26, 2015 (10:27 pm)

    The water was really quite yellow tonight at our house (near Ercolini park). A few weeks ago I noticed it tasted more like bleach than normal. I’m a little worried we aren’t being told what’s up. Can we get our water tested for pot ability? anyone know how?

  • Nicolina September 26, 2015 (11:18 pm)

    This explains lot. For a couple weeks 35th near camp long. Yellow bathwater and tap water.

  • Candy September 28, 2015 (1:13 pm)

    It has appeared at Duwamish Head on Alki, though a resident was told the problem had not extended beyond Admiral. Is anyone else on Alki/Harbor having problems?

  • Natinstl September 28, 2015 (7:37 pm)

    Still yellow as of today, live in Seaview.

    • WSB September 28, 2015 (7:39 pm)

      I’ll be following up with SPU again tomorrow so anybody else lurking out there who’s still getting discolored water – let us know ( … thanks!

  • Erithan September 30, 2015 (6:01 pm)

    Interesting o.o, I was wondering why the bath water looked dingy/brownish(recently very coppery tasting water as well), when it usually just has a blue hue due to light copper.

  • Rose October 1, 2015 (8:39 pm)

    It’s now October 1st and the water is still stinky and yellow/brown. I find it hard to swallow (pun intended) that the water is “safe to drink.”

  • Llsb October 4, 2015 (10:52 pm)

    It’s been tasting funny for a week and just tonight got really brown. We are a few blocks north west of the junction. Anyone have any other info?

    • WSB October 4, 2015 (11:43 pm)

      Some southwest of the Junction had brown water because of tonight’s fire, but if you’re in the other direction, that’s not likely to have been the cause. We had a followup in which SPU asked to hear from anyone still experiencing the problem –

  • lookingforlogic October 13, 2015 (8:05 pm)

    Bath water is yellow this evening, it was clear this morning. Any new updates?

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