Residents In Western Neighborhoods Report Brown Tap Water; Construction To Blame? [Updated]

Is construction work in the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset lowering water quality for some residents? According to a Hoodline reader tip and a Reddit thread, at least two residents have seen brown tap water in recent days, potentially due to construction on water lines in the area.

"It'll happen without warning, and then last for a while," said an anonymous tipster who lives on 44th Avenue between Fulton and Cabrillo. "If you tun the tap long enough, it goes away," he said. "You hope it's gone forever, but this is the third or fourth time it's come back now."

He said he reported the matter to his landlord, who contacted the SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). "They told him it'd due to construction in the area, and there's not much they can do until the construction's completed," he said, noting that he's keeping a bottle of tainted water that could be tested for contaminants.

According to the Outer Richmond resident, the closest work site to his home is at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Fulton, a block away. "I asked the construction workers there if they're working on the water lines, and they said they're just doing the storm drains, but that another crew up the street is doing the water lines," he said.

44th Ave. & Fulton, near construction work. (Photo: Google Maps)

woman who lives in the Outer Sunset reported on Reddit yesterday that she was also having intermittent water problems. Although the problem was "looking better" last night, brown water appeared more than once when she turned on her faucets.

"No matter how long I ran the tap [and it hurt to watch the water run down the sink, #drought] it was still very brown-ly tinged," she wrote. "Our landlord is insisting it's because the city is doing work..."

Update, 9am: Another anonymous tipster has written in to report more water issues in the Richmond:

"We've been seeing yellow/brown tapwater on and off for a few weeks now around California and 17th. There's a lot of construction happening right now on Clement between 10th and Park Presidio, and on Lake and 5th, but both seem to be sewer (or maybe storm drain) related as they're laying down clay pipe."

Although SFPUC maintains a neighborhood map of active construction projects, it doesn't list any current work in the outer avenues; we've contacted them to request additional information.

The According to the Water Department, residents should report issues using the City's 311 service and can expect a response within one day.

Do you live in the outer avenues and have a tap water issue? Respond in the comments, or send us a tip here, or via tips [AT] hoodline [DOT] com.

Update, 3:56 pm: This afternoon, SFPUC Tech & Social Media Manager Florencia Prada issued the following statement:

"On March 24, 2016, a fire hydrant was knocked down causing disruption to our system. As a result, some residents in the Outer Richmond/Sunset may have experienced discoloration in their tap water. 

When there are shocks to the system it can stir up sediment that has built over time in our water pipes. We will be developing a plan to minimize the discoloration by flushing water pipes in that Outer Richmond/Sunset. This is not a major water quality issue."

In the meantime, SFPUC recommends flushing pipes in affected homes using the cold water tap. If discolored water comes out of hot taps, a plumber may be required to flush the heater tank.

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