Failed pump adds color to water

Yuck! Is the water safe to drink?

That’s a question some Langley residents were asking last week when they noticed a brownish-yellow tint to the water flowing out of their faucets.

This week, city officials say the color in the water was nothing to worry about. According to Rick Hill, Langley’s public works director, the icky hue was caused by iron and manganese in the water. He said it is not harmful to human health and is common to many wells on South Whidbey.

But because Langley’s water is usually quite clear, the brown color had city residents and business owners complaining.

“I don’t want to put it in my equipment because it’s so nasty,” said

Melinda West, co-owner of Knox Photo in Langley.

The color, she said, was so off-putting that she felt reluctant using it in the business’ photo processor. As it turns out, the coloring did not cause any problems when printing customers’ photos, but West still chose to drink bottled water instead of out of the tap as she usually does.

The source of the problem was a broken pump in Langley’s water system. Because of the failure, the city’s water started turning brown on Sept. 18.

“A pump problem at the Cedars booster station stirred up turbulence in the lines washing iron and manganese through the system,” Hill said.

Hill explained that iron and manganese attaches to the walls of the pipes. While the pump was down, those minerals settled into the water in the pipe.

“We were not able to react quick enough to repair the pump problem minerals washed through the system, mainly in the Edgecliff area,” he said.

The problem cleared up in 24 to 48 hours, Hill said.

Hill said he talked to several residents on Monday who reported their water was once again pristine.

He said chlorine was not added to the water system to clear it.

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