Discoloured water

The quality of drinking water in the North West is excellent but on rare occasions tap water may become discoloured, appear cloudy, or seem to have very small particles in it.

Discolouration can range from a light, straw-yellow colour to dark brown. It can be caused by a number of things including:

  • naturally occurring substances
  • disturbance of mains deposits
  • corrosion of service pipes
  • internal plumbing issues

In most cases, discoloured water is not harmful, and can be cleared by running the first incoming cold water tap (usually in the kitchen) at a trickle until it clears.

Very occasionally, we get customer calls about “tiny particles” or “bits” in their tap water. This can be caused:

  • by planned or unplanned work to the water supply network, which has caused sediment in the pipes to shift (quite often this is a dark red/brown colour)
  • if your pipework is made from lead. In this case, small dark grey or black particles can occasionally be caused. This is most likely if your house was built before 1970. Find out more about lead pipes

For more information, please see our factsheet on discoloured water (PDF 42 KB opens in a new window).

We also have an easy-to-read guide which explains how you can keep your tap water in tip-top condition (PDF 2,765 KB opens in a new window) 

Please note: if your water is blue, pink, green or any other colour not described above, please do not drink the water or use it for cooking purposes until one of our inspectors has visited your property, and call us on 0345 672 3723. Dial 18001 first if you have hearing or speech difficulties.