Brown water in Redding taps

REDDING, Calif. - Many in the city of Redding have been seeing brown water flowing from their taps.  It's all due to a car crash last night which destroyed a fire hydrant and damaged a water main.

The water flowing through the pipes, while brown, is safe to drink according to Redding Water Utility personnel. 

Part of the reason for the dirty look to the water is the elevated levels of particulate manganese in the pipes.  The manganese is picked up when the water is extracted from the wells in the Enterprise region of southeast Redding.

That manganese normally precipitates out of the water and accumulates at the bottom of pipes when the water stagnates.  But when emergencies and diversions increase flow through water mains the sediments can be picked up and make their way into homes and businesses attached to the lines.

But despite the nasty look, officials said the water is perfectly safe to drink.

"The water is safe to drink," said Redding Water Utility Manager John Wedele.  "It's just not very appealing, so I wouldn't recommend drinking it from just that standpoint."

He goes on to say that health wise the water is perfectly safe.  The water has been tested and contains manganese at concentrations at or below the 500 parts per billion threshold.  That level has been deemed safe by the California State Water Resources Board.

According to the Journal of Neurochemistry, manganese becomes toxic at concentrations around 5 parts per million.  Or about one thousand times the levels measured in Redding tap water.

To avoid odd tasting water or drinking sediment laden water Redding Water Utilities recommends drinking bottled water.  But the city won't be providing bottled water due to the fact that the water itself is safe to consume.

Redding Water Utilities is working to flush out the pipes and expects everything to be back to normal Wednesday night.

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