Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yellow Water

Imagine it's a hot day. You're thirsty so you walk into the kitchen, choose your favorite tall cup from the cupboard, and retrieve a few ice cubes from the freezer. After turning on the kitchen faucet, you let it run a few seconds because you know you have old pipes and then fill your cup. As you raise your cup to your lips to pour cool, refreshing water into your parched throat, you pause. The water has a curious tint. Drinking it anyway, you notice it tastes different, sort of...well, funky. Later, you fill your white, porcelain-lined bathtub for your child's bath. Yes, the water is definitely not clear. It has a decidedly yellowish, brown tint to it. It looks as if several, very dirty children have already bathed in it.

That's what we experience every day here in Tacoma during the late summer, early fall months. It happens each year. Weeks after I have noticed the change in the water, the city gets around to sending out a letter explaining why our water is yellow. Thanks for the advanced notice!

The letter assures us that the water is safe to use and to drink. It's simply a problem with the reservoir being low. This causes the iron and magnesium concentrations to be higher than at other times of the year. Plus we have to draw the water from deep within the reservoir where these elements are found in even greater concentrations. The water treatment process turns these elements back to their visible state. It can't be avoided right now. Hopefully, improvements to the reservoir will allows us to draw the water from a high water level, avoiding this minor problem in the future. We're sorry if you don't like drinking this perfectly safe yellow water. (See last year's letter)

I can tell you that yellow water is definitely not visually pleasing. I mean, really, it's hard to convince your mind that yellow water is ok to drink. In addition to that, it tastes different. I don't know if other people notice it (my husband, who eats nearly anything, doesn't), but I do. Because of that, I drink even less than I normally do. And that's bad since I'm one of those chronically dehydrated people. It's really bad when you consider that I'm currently both pregnant and nursing a toddler. I need even more water than normal to stay healthy and protect the baby growing inside me. Dehydration can cause premature labor. Ask me how I know.

So, for the next few months, I'm grateful for bottled water although it becomes expensive when it is your only source of drinking water.

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