Dealing with Discolored Water

Occasionally, our office receives calls from residents with questions about “brown water”.  In Winnipeg, discoloured water can result from nearby construction projects, firefighting, emergency water main breaks, or routine operations such as water main cleaning.  These types of activities can cause sediment in the water pipes to loosen and be released into the water.

If your water is discolored, the City recommends that you not use discoloured water for any purposes that require clean water, i.e. drinking, preparing food and beverages, or laundry –  discoloured water does not taste, smell or look pleasant, and it can stain clothes. Health officials do not recommend drinking discoloured water but if small amounts are consumed accidentally, no harm is expected.

If you are experiencing discoloured water, please take the necessary steps:

Check these pages on the City’s website:

  1. Check water main activity, which lists all water mains from the past seven days that are shut off or partially shut off due to repair work.
  2. Check water main cleaning to see if cleaning activity has caused the discoloured water.

Check if discoloured water has passed:

  • Turn on a cold water tap and let the water run for a few minutes. It is best to use a bathtub tap as there is no screen to trap any sediment.
  • Catch some water in a light-coloured cup. If the water isn’t clear, turn off the tap, wait 30 minutes and try again. Discoloured water usually doesn’t last long.

Report the problem to the City:

  • If your water still isn’t clear after two to three hours, phone 311 or E-Mail to report the problem.


For additional information, visit these pages on the City’s website:




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