Yellow is the Color of My True Love’s Hair, In the Morning, Till She Bathes …

valveThen it’s red! Rust in household water can be disconcerting, annoying and aggravating. If you’ve experienced it, welcome to the club that includes – well – almost everyone. Iron, frequently in the form of rust, is commonly found in residential water systems everywhere, including Vacation Village.

When my wife, Liz McCarty, asked me about the “problem” of rust in water, I was all too happy to climb on my chemical engineer’s soapbox and talk about it. I’ll spare you the details I gave her lest I put you to sleep like I did her. But I’ll be happy to summarize my comments.

Yes, rust in the water can cause problems. However, if these were the worst problems you ever faced, your life would be a paradise. If you see rust in your water, don’t wash your light colored clothes unless you want a light pink tint to them. There can be a slight odor to the water if the source of the rust is long standing, rust laden sediments that have been stirred up due to a maintenance operation or an inordinately high water flow such as that caused by fire hydrant testing. An iron related bacteria can give the water a bit of an “air” that may be slightly offensive.

With that said, you can now go back to listening to Judy Collins sing about hair color. There’s nothing more to worry about. The fact of the matter is the odor and the bacteria that caused it are completely harmless to humans. The rust itself is also completely harmless. In fact, it’s probably beneficial. Remember, people spend lots of money on iron supplements. Just have another glass of water.

When Liz broached the subject to me, I asked to see a recent water test report for The Village. As I perused the report, I found every measure of water quality under the sun … EXCEPT iron content. The reason for this is that the scientists who concern themselves with water quality are confident that iron (rust) in drinking water does NOT present any kind of health hazard. There is no reason for concern other than pink underwear and that’s Joe Arpaio’s problem.

So what can you do about the non-problem? You can install a high priced filter that is only somewhat effective, expensive to maintain and offers more frustration than it averts. The best approach to reducing iron in the water is to simply let your water run so that any suspended iron from disturbed sediments flows down the drain. Actually, it would be better to fill your watering pots with it; your plants will thank you. Letting your water flow for a minute or so is especially beneficial if you haven’t run your water for an extended period of time or if you know that the water system has undergone a major maintenance operation recently.

In reality, the best approach to having small quantities of iron or rust in your water is to put a smile on your face and not lose any sleep over it. Maybe you can even cut back on the number of iron supplements you take. You might just jump in the shower and sing to your heart’s content without giving the water a second thought.

Speaking of singers, wouldn’t “Rusty Waters” be a great name for a blues singer?

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