Discolored tap water found in University of Wisconsin-Madison residence halls and in off-campus housing may be the result of a nearby water main leak, according to the city of Madison’s Water Utility department reported a discoloration of tap water supplied by the Madison Water Utility Wednesday afternoon.
According to reports, discoloration of the water began Wednesday afternoon when students noticed brown water coming from indoor water sources, including drinking fountains, sinks and toilets. Discolored water was found in Vilas Hall, Smith Residence Hall, Grainger Hall, Ogg Residence Hall, houses in the Vilas neighborhood and in several off-campus apartments.
As of Wednesday evening, one student reported that the discoloration had decreased, but has not completely subsided.
According to Madison Water Utility, there was a water main leak southwest of the 2200 block of Fish Hatchery Road during the time that students began to report discolored water.
Leaks can also be caused by road construction and water mains flushing. The color of the water changes as mineral sediments are stirred up by pressure changes; iron and manganese are commonly found in water mains in Madison and naturally occur in a nearby sandstone aquifer.
Steve Wagner, the communications director in facilities planning and management, explained that the discolored water is likely connected to the leak and advised students currently experiencing brown water to run facets until the issue resolved itself.
“There was a major water main break off campus that may cause water discoloration in university buildings. Campus is supplied by the Madison Water Utility, so off-campus issues sometimes affect our buildings,” Wagner told The Daily Cardinal. “If people notice discolored water at a fixture, they should run the water until it clears up.”
UW student, Mollie Caguin, noticed the discoloring of the water in her off-campus apartment on Wednesday around 2 p.m.
“I noticed that the water coming from my kitchen sink was yellow today,” Caguin said in an interview with the Cardinal. “Later, when I went to class in Grainger Hall, I noticed the water from the water fountain was yellow too. I didn’t really think anything of it; I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal. When I got back from class around 5 p.m., the water was still yellow, but it wasn’t as dark.”
The City of Madison Water Utility has stated that it is currently taking measures to resolve the problem.
Ellie Bourdo is the features editor for The Daily Cardinal. Ellie previously served as associate news editor, where she specialized in breaking news and University of Wisconsin-System news reporting. She also works at WisPolitics. Follow Ellie on Twitter at @elliebourdo.