Why is my water is cloudy/milky colored?

Cloudy water is almost always caused by air in the water.  Water has the ability to dissolve certain gases, including air.  When the air comes out of solution, it often forms tiny bubbles, giving the water a cloudy or milky appearance.  To see if the color is due to air, fill a clear glass with water and allow it to sit in the counter for several minutes.  If the milky color is due to air, the water will begin to clear from the bottom of the glass first and gradually clear to the top.  The water is safe to drink.

This situation can occur almost any time, but often happens when there is a significant change in temperature, such as the spring or fall.  Air dissolves more easily in cold water than in warmer water.  It can also occur when the water has been off for repairs.  This condition can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on conditions.

 Why does my water smell like bleach?

The City uses chlorine to disinfect the water.  Chlorine is added during the treatment process as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and prevent it from growing in the distribution system.  A chlorine residual is maintained all the way to your tap.  Some individuals are more sensitive to smell and can detect even small amounts of odors.  If the water has been sitting in the piping for a period of time, the odor can concentrate and be more noticeable at first.  To remove any taste or smell, fill a pitcher full of water and refrigerate overnight.  The chlorine content will dissipate.

Why does my water smell or taste dirty or musty?

At certain times of the year, especially during the hot, dry summer months, there are various species of algae present in the source water (Sabine River) for the surface water treatment plant.  These algae can give off chemicals (gesomin or 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) that give the water a dirty or musty taste or smell.  These chemicals can be detected by the human senses as low as 5-10 parts per trillion.  It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for the algae to diminish and the chemicals to no longer be present.  The water is treated at the plant with activated carbon and other chemicals known as oxidizers to remove the gesmin and MIB; however it is difficult to remove them entirely.  Care must be taken not to overuse the treatment chemicals to the point where the finished water is out of compliance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations and pose possible health hazards to the public.  Although the taste or smell may be objectionable, the water is still safe to drink.

What is the hardness of our water?

Hardness is caused by the presence of mainly calcium and magnesium in the water.  It is measured in either parts per million or grains per gallon.  The City of Kilgore’s water contains an average of about 40 parts per million (or about 2.3 grains per gallon) total hardness.  This is considered moderately hard water.  Hard water is more likely to cause a “soap scum” on fixtures.  It requires more soap to lather or foam.  Soft water requires much less soap, but does not rinse off as readily.  No softening is required for our water.

 What is in my water?

There are many constituents that occur naturally in our water.  Others are added as part of the treatment process.  Detailed information about our water can be found in the Drinking Water Quality Report.

Why is my water sometimes discolored, and is it safe to drink?

The water may be colored a yellowish or red color due to several factors.  Normally it is due to the presence of iron in the water, along with the fact that there are still iron pipes in our distribution system.   The yellow color is due to dissolved iron in the water, while the reddish color is usually specks of iron in the water.  We add a chemical to the water to sequester, or chemically bind the iron so it stays entirely dissolved.  However, due to various factors (temperature, pH of the water, etc.) the iron can come out of the solution and discolor the water.  Recent flushing of fire hydrants, a sudden increase in water usage, and after a water main break can also contribute to discolored water.

The water is safe to drink, cook and bathe with.  While it is not aesthetically pleasing, it is still safe.  The amount of iron in the water is normally much less than the amount of iron recommended in your daily diet.

 Why is my water pressure so low?

Low pressure in the water lines can be caused by several factors.  Check your faucets to see if the problem is isolated to one or two faucets, and not the entire house.   If it is isolated, check to see if the screen on the faucet is clogged.  If it is clear, the piping to the faucet could be clogged, or the faucet itself could have a buildup of minerals in it.

If the entire house/building has low water pressure, it could indicate a leak on the line, a meter problem, or buildup in the service line or house plumbing due to age, etc.  Contact the water department customer service to have the meter and service line to the main checked.  If these are found to be in good condition, you will need to contact a plumber for further assistance.

 What do I do if I think I have a leak?

 The only time a meter registers usage is when water is flowing through it.  The first thing you will notice is that the blue and silver ‘star’ in the middle of the meter arrow (usually red) will be turning. (See meter picture below).  If you know all faucets are off and no water is supposedly being used, look to see if the star is turning.  If it is, there is a leak somewhere in the home/building.  Water flowing through the meter is the only thing that will cause the star to spin.

When the star is turning, you may still have a leak that is intermittent, such as a commode leaking.  It can be slow and not make any apparent noise.  You can check this by reading your meter at night before you go to bed, and do not use any water during the night.  Read the numbers again in the morning to see if the numbers have moved.  Do this for 2 or 3 nights to see how much water is going through the meter and if it appears to happen regularly.

Most of the small leaks of this type originate in the commode.  For example, if the ball cock in the tank does not go all the way up, shutting off the tank refill, the water continues to come into the tank and goes out through the overflow tube.  You may not hear the water running, and the resulting water usage can increase your bill.

Other possible sources of leaks can include leaking/dripping faucets, water heaters, leaking sprinkler lines, or sprinkler heads.   A dripping faucet can waste up to 3 gallons a day, or nearly 1100 gallons a year.  A pinhole leak can use over 200 gallons per day.

 Can my water meter be defective?

A water meter can be defective. It is a mechanical device with moving parts..  These parts turn when water passes through the meter, and moves the wheels/gears in the register to record the usage.   These parts can wear out over time.   This usually causes the meter to slow down and not record all the water that passes through it.  This will actually result in a lower than normal bill.  Remember, a meter can only turn when water passes through it.

 If there is a leak, who is responsible for repairs?

The Water Department is responsible for the water main, the service line that goes from the main to the meter, the meter itself, and the meter box.  The service line that goes from the meter to the house/building is the customer’s responsibility.  This includes the portion of the service line that may be inside the meter box.  If the leak is on the service line from the meter to the house, you will need to contact a plumber to make the necessary repairs.

 What happens if I have a sewer problem?

If you have a problem with a possible sewer back-up, please call the main City Hall number at (903) 984-5081 on Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  For any other time, call the after-hours emergency number at (903) 983-1559.  The field operations crew will be notified for the quickest response.  Please call the City Hall number first so we may assess the problem and determine if a plumber will need to be contacted.  We will use a sewer jet machine to clear the City main if it is blocked.  If the problem is in the service line that goes from the main to your house/building, you will need to have a plumber install a 2-way cleanout in the service line either in the right-of-way or on the property line if there is no right-of-way.  The City will then be sure the service line is clear from the right-of-way to the main.  If this does not eliminate the problem, you will need to get a plumber for repairs.

If the problem is a sewer smell in the area, we will record the complaint and issue a work order to try and locate the source as soon as possible.  Since this type of nuisance can be difficult to locate, we ask for your patience in allowing us to try to locate and correct the problem.