Water FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions on BWL Water

Is our tap water safe?

BWL drinking water meets or exceeds every State and Federal regulation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. To learn more about BWL drinking water click here for our Annual Water Quality Report.

What is the hardness of our water?

BWL drinking water is softened to remove approximately 85% of the hardness. The remaining hardness is approximately 98 milligram per liter (mg/L) or 5.7 grains per gallon (gpg). Our hardness target is consistent through the year but may be higher during the summer months due to high water demands and harder water wells being used.

Why do I occasionally see orange, yellow or brown from my tap?

The discoloration you see typically comes from iron that accumulated in cast iron water mains and has been picked up by a large change in flow. This change can be caused by main break, repair or replacement, flushing, firefighting activities or anything else that disrupts the normal flow through the water main.

Is this discoloration harmful?

Although iron appears unappetizing and may impart a metallic or slightly bitter taste, it offers no health threat. Extremely high levels of iron can induce nausea and vomiting, but that amount would not taste good and one would have a hard time drinking it.      

What should I do if I see this discoloration?

Generally, if you wait for a short period (an hour or so), then flush your faucet for 10 minutes, the discoloration will disappear. If you must have a drink of water, drawing some into a pitcher or tall glass and letting it stand will give the discoloration a chance to settle. If the water is lighter, it means the iron is settling out and will soon be clear again. If the discoloration is still a problem after 24 hours, call our customer service at 517-702-6006.

Why do I only have discolored water in one faucet and then it clears after running the water?

Rusting galvanized piping in the home plumbing systems can cause temporary discolored water inside the home. Consult a plumber to help with this issue.

My water is normally clear but now appears milky white when I draw a glass full. What is the cause, and is it safe?

The two most typical causes for what you describe are easily distinguished from one another. The first is air, which can enter the water mains either from a main break or main isolation, or from air due to the use of certain wells in the BWL system.

The second is from deposits of calcium carbonate that have been laid down in the mains over time and then picked up due to large changes in flow.

Collect cold water from your tap in a clear glass. If the water clears from the bottom up, it’s air. If the cloudiness is caused by calcium carbonate (product of the softening process), it will clear from the top down. Neither of these is hazardous, and both should disappear within hours. 

This also could be a result of aerators (screens) on your faucets needing to be removed and cleaned. 

What is the pink slime in my bathroom?

Pink/orange/gray/black slime is an airborne bacteria which grows well on materials moist surfaces containing nutrients such as phosphorus or fatty substances (soap residue in your shower). The pink residual can usually be found is areas that remain wet and are good environments for harboring bacteria, such as bathroom sinks, toilets and showers. Dog bowls are another spot this can be seen. Unfortunately, this bacteria is difficult to keep away once it has grown. Persistent cleaning can help reduce or eliminate the problem.

Ways to reduce the pink slime:

  • Ventilate the bathroom during and after a shower
  • Wipe down your shower and tub after use
  • Reduce the amount of water and soap scum you leave on surfaces
  • Clean frequently with vinegar, bleach or an antibacterial cleaner
  • For dog bowls, stainless steel works best. Glass and plastic can tend to scratch and harbor bacteria in the scratches. The bad news is that it’s very hard to keep those pink, slimy rings from forming

Why is there staining inside my toilet bowl and how do I get rid of it?

If the yellow/orange/black stain is below the water line this is iron that has settled out. BWL water does contain low levels of dissolved iron and over time this can oxidize and settle out. Checking the tank on the toilet may show that iron has accumulated in there over time. A product that removes iron is a good solution for the tank. The bowl can be cleaned with the same product or with most bathroom cleaners.

If the stain is above the water line this can be one of a few things. It could be iron when it oxidizes with the air. This can be removed with most bathroom cleaners.

If the color of the stain is pinkish/orange it could be an airborne bacteria that is feeding off nutrients in the water. The airborne bacteria can be difficult to get rid of, it likes to come back. Vinegar, bleach or an antimicrobial cleaner is the best way to combat the toilet bowl ring or streaks. If it is possible for better ventilation in the bathroom that can help as well.

Why does my water smell like rotten eggs / hydrogen sulfide?

If the smell is in the hot water only this can be one of two things. The magnesium anode rod may need replacement in the water heater. Note: Magnesium works better than aluminum with BWL water. The other possibility is the water heater has sat stagnant and not been used for a while. It is best to drain and refill the water heater.

To check the cold water, run the water for 3 minutes, fill a clean glass, walk away from the sink and smell the cold water. Rotten egg smell is not expected in our system. If the cold water does smell, call our customer service at 517-702-6006.

Why does my water have an earthy smell?

Odors may be coming from your sink drain. Turning your faucet on may displace sewer gas. One way to determine if the smell is from the water or your drain is to get a clean glass and fill it with cold water.  Walk away from the room it was filled in and smell the water in the glass.

If there is no smell in the cold-water glass then the drain is the issue. If the cold water does smell, call our customer service at 517-702-6006.

You can do the same test with the hot water. If there is no smell in the hot-water glass then the drain is the issue. If the hot water does smell, this is a water heater issue, call your local plumber.

Why does my water smell like chlorine?

The BWL uses chloramines to disinfect the water to ensure the best, safest water is being delivered to you. Typically, chloramines do not have much of an odor if any. Some people can be more sensitive to the smells in the water and at other times slight increases in the chloramines can cause people to detect the smell. BWL’s chloramine levels are always below State and Federal regulations and are monitored daily.

What are the white particles coming from my tap?

The white particles could be a few different things. BWL’s water contains calcium carbonate from the hardness and softening process which can dislodge or accumulate overtime. Clean your faucets with white vinegar to help break down the calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate settles out in the water heater and flushing the water heater can help reduce the deposits as well.

If the white particles are plastic this is most like components, such as the dip tube, in the water heater breaking down. Call a plumber to investigate the problem.

Do I have a lead service line to my home or work?

No, in December 2016 the BWL removed its last known lead service line.

What can I do to reduce my exposure to lead in drinking water?

  • Flush Your Pipes Before Drinking: If the water hasn’t been used for more than six hours, run the tap water until it feels cold.
  • Only Use Cold Tap Water For: Drinking, cooking and making baby formula, hot water is more likely to contain lead.
  • Clean Faucet Aerators: Remove the aerators (screens) and clean them at least every six months.
  • Check and Replace Your Plumbing Fixtures If Necessary: Older faucets, fittings and valves sold before 2014 may contain up to 8 percent lead, even if marked “lead-free.”