Seeing yellow or green-tinted drinking water? It is natural color from the forest.

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A lake during fall with a glassy surface surrounded by green and yellow trees. The beautiful trees are reflected in the surface of the lake.
Residents around the Portland-area may be seeing a slight, yellow or green color in the water. This color is a lingering result of the heavy rains in early December. This is a harmless discoloration from fine organic matter from the Bull Run Watershed.
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December 21, 2023 Update

This week, we have seen color levels in water coming out of the watershed return to normal. Customers who have noticed color over the past few weeks should see it clear soon as water moves from the watershed through the city. If you continue to see color over the next week, or are experiencing color in your tap water for the first time, please report it to the Water Quality Line.

Original post from December 12, 2023

Residents around the Portland-area may be seeing a light yellow or green color in the water. This color is a lingering result of the heavy rains in early December. This is a harmless discoloration from fine organic matter from the Bull Run Watershed. We are closely watching color levels and are seeing it decrease each day.  

Is the water safe to drink?

Yes, the water is safe to drink. If you are seeing a light yellow or green tint in your tap water, it is temporary and we’re hoping will clear in a few days.

If you have discolored water that is not a yellow or green tint, please report it to the Water Quality Line. Water that is brown or darker than a tint – closer to coffee than a tea color – may be caused by something else happening in your neighborhood.

What is causing the color in the water?

This color is a normal occurrence in our system as our water supply originates in the Bull Run Watershed near Mt. Hood. Before the water is treated and enters the distribution system, it can take on a tint from organic materials that are washed into the streams and the reservoirs in the watershed, particularly after a heavy rain like we had in early December. Drinking water from the Bull Run is not filtered, which is why the color from the forest can be seen in tap water or staining the filters in your business or home. Drinking water from the Bull Run will be filtered by 2027.

The color you see is produced by tannins in organic material, much the same as the color you find in an ordinary cup of tea. There is nothing harmful to your health from these tannins. The color affects only the appearance of the water, and not the quality.

Questions? Contact the Water Quality Line

Contact

Water Quality Line

Ask drinking water quality and pressure questions.
phone number503-823-7525Monday - Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Interpretation services available.