National City resident Ramel Wallace thought maybe he just forgot to flush the toilet on Thursday night.
Come Friday, faucets in the sink, kitchen and shower all spilled apple juice-colored water, he said. Wallace went straight to a National City Facebook group to crowd-source the reason and saw neighbors posted about the issue.
“A lot of people thought they were tripping,” said Wallace, who said he’s lived in National City for five years.
Running his water didn’t flush-out the color. About midday on Friday, his water cleared up. Wallace said he didn’t get any notification about what caused the discoloration.
The public water agency Sweetwater Authority, which supplies drinking water to National City, confirmed it didn’t issue a press release about the problem because there was nothing to fear.
“While there was no impact to water quality and safety, we understand the concerns of our customers,” wrote Leslie Payne, a Sweetwater Authority spokeswoman, in an email Tuesday.
The cause was that a valve connected to a new water main installation was “inadvertently opened,” said Payne. That triggered a change in water pressure around the area where customers were seeing discoloration. Changes in the flow of water stirs up naturally-occurring sediments or minerals that are in water mains, which was the cause of the discoloration, Payne confirmed.
The water agency didn’t locate the source of the problem until after 2:30 on Friday when customers from the northern portion of National City began calling in to report the water color, said Payne. Staff from Sweetwater’s water quality department investigated homes and businesses where water ran yellow, searching for nearby construction, leaks or any disrupted fire hydrants. A broken fire hydrant caused yellow-brown water discoloration in Chula Vista back in 2017, which can unsettle minerals in the water system, according to Sweetwater’s website.
Payne added that the agency will be adding a truck that can flush water mains and building in a system that can remove iron and manganese, often the cause of such discoloration, to enhance water quality.
Sweetwater Authority said the water would have been safe to drink even when discolored. National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, who chairs the governing board of the water agency, said she “drank a glass of water without issue” even after noticing a slight discoloration.
But the event scarred Wallace to a certain extent. He’s since kept his mouth far from the water stream in the shower, something Wallace said he’s never thought to do before.
He saved a yellowed sample of the water that flowed through his faucets in a plastic bottle that he’d like to test himself, he said.