water dirty

A Gustine resident holds up a glass of water from the tap, which turned yellow from flushing the fire hydrants in town, according to city officials.


That’s the sentiment several Gustine residents were expressing recently when they turned on their faucets and found a yellow-brownish water flowing out.

Many turned to social media pages, like the Gustine Community Uncensored on Facebook in search of an answer, or in some cases to express their disgust.

“Yum. Gustine water anyone want a glass?” asked one Gustine resident rhetorically in one post as she held up a glass of water with a distinct yellow hue, more akin to beer than water.

“Is this happening in a certain area of Gustine or in all parts?” asked Darlene Lopes.

As for where it was happening, the City of Gustine is not exactly sure, but they do believe they know why the water was discolored.

“A possible cause may have been due to some recent fire hydrant testing that occurred on September 7th,” said City of Gustine Public Works Director Jesus Chavez. “City staff tested nine fire hydrants for flow, psi [pounds per square inch] and gallons per minute.  Colorization could have occurred due to multiple hydrants being opened at full capacity for the testing.  These tests can cause scouring of the water lines, which can release some built-up residue, but it poses no health hazards.”

The sudden change in water pressure that occurs during a fire hydrant test can dislodge materials like rust on the inside of the pipes. Fire departments are required to occasionally conduct the fire hydrant tests to ensure the pressure and flow is up to the standards needed to fight fires.

Some posts were in regards to the water causing bleaching marks on clothing during the laundry cycle, but the cause of that is unknown.

“When I saw the postings regarding possible bleaching of clothes in the wash, I asked staff to check the chlorine residuals in the water around town from our fire hydrants,” Chavez said. “The ideal chlorine level (CL2) in swimming pools is 2.0 mg/L . None of the wells tested above .63 mg/l and the average was .58 mg/L average.  We do not believe the City’s water was the reason the clothes were allegedly bleached.”

The discoloration of the water should have disappeared by now, but if residents are still seeing an issue, they should report it to the City.

“If the discoloration is due to scouring the best solution is to clear the lines,” Chavez said. “That is why we ask the public to contact the City if they have issues.  When contacted by a resident, staff will flush the nearest hydrant until the water becomes clear. We then ask the resident to flush all their home faucets till clear.”

The City said they will make sure to notify residents before the hydrants are flushed again.


“We normally notify residents when we are doing work on water lines that may affect their service or the quality of their water, however, we were not able to do it this time as the tests were conducted in multiple locations of the City and it was impossible to know who might be affected,” Chavez said. “In the future we will look into placing a notice on the City’s Facebook page and other social media sites.”