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If the discoloration is detected only in your hot water supply, it is likely an indication of an issue with your hot water heater. It is recommended that you turn off your hot water heater and allow it to cool. Once cool, safely drain and flush your unit. Then fill and turn your unit on to determine if the problem persists. You should consult your owner's manual for instructions and warnings regarding this task or contact a licensed plumber.
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The 24-hour Emergency Number is (978) 983-8855. Your call will be directed to the Water Distribution office during normal business hours. After hours, your call will be directed to the Water Treatment Plant. Alternatively, you can call the Police Dispatch at 978-983-8698.
Please call the Water Office located at City Hall at 978-983-8555 or email email@example.com
Payments can be made in person at:
The Searles Building, Methuen, MA 01844. See map: Google Maps
At Methuen Water, we routinely sample and analyze water quality from the source, through our treatment process, and throughout our distribution system to ensure water service that meets or exceeds all drinking water standards established by State and Federal regulations. Summaries of our test results are posted on our website and distributed to public places annually in a Consumer Confidence Report.
If you are a Methuen Water Department customer, you can get your water tested for basic water quality parameters at the Water Treatment Plant Laboratory located at 25 Burnham Road. Please contact the Chief Chemist / Lab Director at (978) 983-8852. We do test well water for E. coli for a fee of $30, please contact the laboratory for the correct sample bottles and procedures.
The city of Methuen’s water comes from the Merrimack River, please see our annual Water Quality Report for more details.
The City of Methuen’s drinking water is considered “soft water” according to the ranges set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). There is no EPA drinking water standard for hardness, only set ranges to define the degree of hardness: 0 to 75mg/l is considered soft, 75 – 150 mg/l considered moderately soft, 150 – 300 mg/l considered hard, and over 300 mg/l considered very hard. Methuen’s treated water generally ranges from 15 to 30 mg/l hardness. By definition, water hardness is the total concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in the water. Hard water is not considered a contaminant, but it does retard the cleaning action of soap and can form a scale on cooking utensils, hot water pipes and heaters. “Soft water” can have corrosive tendencies, but Methuen’s water is adjusted before leaving the treatment plant making it non-corrosive but also non-scale forming.
With a system-wide average for hardness ranging between 1 and 2 grains per gallon (a unit of measure commonly used by dishwasher manufacturers) or 15-30 milligrams per liter (mg/l), Methuen’s water is considered to be soft.
On average, the pH of Methuen’s water ranges from 7.2 to 7.8 units.
Occasionally your water may look cloudy or milky. Cloudy or milky-looking water is usually the result of lots of tiny air bubbles suspended in the water. The bubbles are so small that they are almost invisible, but together they look like someone poured milk in your water. Our water has dissolved air in it all of the time, but it has more during the colder months. When the colder water warms in your hot water heater or in the pipes of your home it can no longer hold all of the dissolved air, so air bubbles appear. There is nothing that Methuen Water can do to remove these air bubbles from the water, but be assured that these bubbles will clear on their own as the water warms up. If you allow a glass of water to stand for a few moments, the air bubbles will rise to the surface. This phenomenon is called entrained air and does not affect the quality of your water and is not harmful to consume.
The internal plumbing of your house may be the culprit if discolored water only appears for a minute or two after your tap is turned on. When the zinc coating on the inside of galvanized iron pipe begins to wear thin, water becomes discolored as it comes in contact with bare iron. The longer the water sits in the pipes, the worse the discoloration will be. That's why you are most likely to notice the problem first thing in the morning or when you have just returned from being out of your home for some period of time. After running your tap for a few minutes, clean water from your water heater or water main will replace the discolored water. Since iron is an essential nutrient, this condition poses no health hazard. If the discoloration bothers you, however, flush the tap until the water becomes clear.
Sediments in water mains sometimes get stirred up when fire hydrants are used and when the flow of water in mains is changed. These sediments may cause your water to turn brown or yellow. Wait 30 to 40 minutes after you notice the discolored water, and try turning on the cold water in your bathtub for a minute or two. You'll probably notice that it clears right up, since sediments settle quickly back to the bottom of water mains. Discolored water due to sediments poses no known health threat, but for aesthetic reasons you should avoid doing laundry until the water color clears up.
Air that is trapped in the ice gives it a cloudy appearance. Commercially made ice is stirred as it is frozen. Household ice is not. Without mixing, many more ice crystals form and air is trapped in the ice. Light rays are distorted by these crystals and air, and this distortion gives home frozen ice a cloudy appearance.
This film can be a result of many factors, some internal to the home, such as a water softener or plumbing. It may also be related to the condition of the water coming into the home. Hard water can leave deposits, which are the mineral salts left behind as the water evaporates, on toilets and dishwashers. Rings on baths and showers can also be scum left behind as the water evaporates or from soap or shampoos reacting with hard water. (NOTE: Methuen municipal water is NOT hard water, therefore this is an unlikely reason). Black slime is usually mold/mildew that thrives in moist areas like bathroom toilets and tiles where it is wet and warm. The film that develops on sink stoppers is again non-harmful bacteria and residue build up. Usually, the customer will need to clean the area with a commercial cleaner that contains a disinfecting agent, such as chlorine bleach.
People sometimes see a pink ring develop on the flat surfaces of their shower, in their pet's water bowls, or toilets. This is a colored organism (Serratia marcescens) that is present in the air that grows in these areas. It is a harmless bacterium and exists in moist/humid conditions. The customer can remove the pink ring by cleaning the area periodically with a commercial cleaning product that contains bleach.
The taste of water can be improved simply by refrigerating your drinking water in a pitcher or container. To remove any chlorine taste or odors simply shake the covered container and allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. The chlorine will dissipate.
Have you noticed a chemical smell coming from your water? The aesthetic properties of your tap water depend upon your local natural water supply source, how your water is treated, and how it is delivered to you. If the smell or taste resembles bleach it can be pretty alarming, but rest assured this not caused by harmful contaminants.
In the case of private well water that undergoes no treatment at all, taste and odor are simply a function of the presence of naturally occurring minerals and organic matter in the tapped groundwater. Municipal treatment, however, adds another level of “complexity” for the palate.
However, wells are not common in Methuen and while they do exist they are privately owned. For public water systems, a refreshing glass of drinking water requires certain chemicals be present in combination. And a drink of water that originated from a municipal treatment plant such as Methuen’s made contact with chlorine when it was added to destroy waterborne germs, such as e. coli 0157 H7 and norovirus, which are capable of spreading disease. Chlorine disinfectants play an essential role in maintaining the public health, but they can introduce an unpleasant odor or taste to drinking water and this is the most common question from public drinking water consumers.
The chlorine odor of tap water can be traced to the chlorine “residual,” a low level of chlorine maintained in water to guard against bacteria, viruses and parasites, which water may come in contact with as it flows from the treatment plant to points of use. In the US, even treatment plants that use non-chlorine disinfection technologies are required to add chlorine to the water before it flows into the distribution system. The chlorine residual acts like a “body guard” for water in transit. As long as there is a residual level of chlorine, the consumer is reasonably protected from harmful microorganisms.
According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA), if the chlorine residual level is sufficient without being excessive, water will not smell like chlorine. Yet, sensitivity to the odor of chlorine varies among consumers. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires treatment facilities to maintain a chlorine residual level that is chemically detectable but no greater than 4 mg/l. Four milligrams per liter is the “Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level” for chlorine, and it is the level below which there are no known or expected risks to health from exposure to the disinfectant.
Most people can sense a chlorine residual around 1 mg/l. If your water smells strongly of chlorine, it is possible that your treatment facility conveys water over a long distance, requiring heavy chlorination to maintain chlorine residual throughout the system. (The chlorine residual also may be raised by treatment facilities during warm weather when chlorine dissipates readily from water.)
What Can You Do?
Fill a pitcher of water and set it aside for several hours while chlorine dissipates. Transferring the water rapidly between two pitchers can accelerate chlorine dissipation.
Do you have a question about your drinking water quality? If your home is served by our public water system, you should receive a link to Methuen’s consumer confidence report (CCR) each year by July 1 in your water bill. A CCR provides a general overview of the water quality delivered.
Sometimes customers report that their tap water smells septic, swampy, moldy or like sewage or sewer gas, or sometimes sulfur or rotten eggs. These odors are often caused by gases forming in the household drain. These gases are formed by bacteria which live on food, soap, hair and other organic matter in the drain. These gases are heavier than air and remain in the drain until the water is turned on. As the water runs down the drain, the gases are expelled into the atmosphere around the sink. It is natural to associate these odors with the water because they are observed only when the water is turned on. In this case, the odor is not in the water, it is simply the water pushing the gas out of the drain. This can be verified by taking a glass of water from the tap and walking away to another area to smell the glass of water.
If you determine it is the drain, you can eliminate this type odor by disinfecting the drain to kill the bacteria. Effective disinfection can be achieved by following these six steps.
Caution: do not mix any drain cleaners or detergents with bleach; certain combinations can create toxic fumes
If the odor is detected only in your hot water supply, it may be an indication that there is an issue with your hot water heater. A sulfurous or rotten egg-like odor in the hot water is caused by bacteria growing in the water heater. This usually happens when the water heater is turned off while on vacation, when the hot water has not been used for a long time, or when the temperature setting on the heater is set too low. You should consult your owner's manual or contact a licensed plumber to address this issue.
Customers often call to report white particles clogging their shower heads, faucet aerators or floating in the bath tub or water glasses. These particles are often described as resembling eggshell fragments, scale or oatmeal. In many instances our laboratory has determined that these particles are plastic and that the source was limited to the hot water. It was further determined that the source of these particles is the failure of the plastic dip tube located inside the hot water heater in the home.
Most residential water heaters contain a "dip tube" that is commonly made of plastic. The dip tube is basically an extension of the cold water inlet that extends nearly to the bottom of the tank and directs cold water to the bottom to be heated. From August 1993 through October 1996, a series of defective dip tubes was manufactured and sold to major manufacturers of water heaters. The defect causes the dip tubes to degrade and disintegrate within an average time of 3 to 5 years. The result is that particles of this disintegrated plastic are released into the home plumbing to clog fixtures and reduce water pressure. The particles are non toxic and do not make the water toxic.
To determine if the dip tube is the source of the problem, place some of the white particles in a clear glass of water and see if they float. Because the dip tubes are plastic, they should float.
Once a defective dip tube is confirmed, check the age and warranty period on your water heater. If the unit is less than 5 years old, it's likely still under warranty and the manufacturer should be willing to repair or replace it. Contact your plumber, building contractor, or the manufacturer to report the problem. You will need to have the manufacturer, model number and serial number ready when you call; other useful information might include the date of purchase or installation, and your warranty documents.
Use of fire hydrants, besides either by the Water or Fire Departments, is illegal. Please notify the Water Distribution Department at (978) 983-8855.