Frequently Asked Questions
Drinking Water Quality FAQ
Why does my drinking water look red, yellow, or brown?
Increased flows in the water distribution pipes can disturb mineral deposits that are normally present in the iron pipes and may result in colored water. Increased flows may be due to hydrant flushing maintenance activities or firefighting activities. Although its appearance is not pleasing, the water does not pose a health risk and is safe to drink. There are, however, a couple things to avoid until the water clears:
- Do not use hot water because sediment will collect in the hot water tank.
- Do not do laundry because the iron can stain clothing.
The water should clear within a few hours. Check the water every 30 or 60 minutes by running the cold water tap located in the lowest point in your home for 2-3 minutes. Once it runs clear, flush the pipes in your home by running all cold water taps for a few minutes.
If the problem persists, a system hydrant may need to be flushed. Please call 311.
Why does my drinking water look cloudy or milky?
Cloudy or milky-looking water is most likely caused by tiny air bubbles. This typically happens when the water changes temperature and is often observed in the fall and spring.
There are two common reasons:
• Water can absorb more air at higher water pressure. Because the water in the distribution system and your home’s pipes are pressurized, when the water is poured into a drinking glass the air leaves the water in the form of bubbles.
• Water releases air bubbles when it is warmed. As water makes its way from a cold reservoir to your tap, it warms up. Cold water holds more air than warm water, so once the water leaves the tap some of the air is no longer soluble and leaves the water in the form of bubbles.
Fill a glass and let it sit for a few minutes. If the bubbles rise to the top and the cloudiness disappears, then the issue was just caused by some air bubbles.
If the water does not clear after a few minutes, please call 311.
Why does my water smell or taste bad?
Your water shouldn't have an discernible taste or odor.
An odor from your tap is commonly caused by unsanitary sink plumbing, garbage disposal, or nozzle screen on the sink spout, and not by the water itself. If you notice a taste or odor, first check the other taps in your house. The s-shaped pipe under your sink is especially prone to collecting debris.
Fill a glass halfway with tap water and smell the water in a separate room or try running the faucet with the drain closed. If the odor is no longer present, the source of the problem is likely the plumbing beneath your sink.
If the problem is not from the plumbing or if it persists longer than one day, contact 311. You may be asked the following questions:
- Is the taste or odor occurring at all faucets?
- When was the taste or odor first detected?
- Is the taste or odor in the hot or cold water, or both?
- How would you describe the taste or odor (e.g. earthy, musty, grassy)?
- Do neighbors have the same problem?
Where can I find more information?
Contact us! For more information or to report an issue please call 311 (612-673-3000). TTY/TDD customers dial (612) 263-6850.
You can also report an issue through our online forms: Report a Water Issue Form
Common Water Quality Concerns (PDF Printer Friendly)
Minneapolis tap water customers can rest assured that their drinking water is safe. In addition to the continuous sampling and analyzing done to ensure strict compliance with federal and state drinking water regulations, the state Department of Health requires extensive testing for lead and copper in the City’s drinking water every three years. These tests were conducted in 2018 and out of the fifty (50) homes tested, all tested below the EPA’s action level for copper and only two homes tested above the action level for lead. Follow-up testing showed the increase in lead levels were caused by lead in a kitchen faucet not from the water piping and letting the water run briefly decreased the lead level to below the action level.
Lead in drinking water is usually from lead that has leached from homeowners’ plumbing such as private service pipes, lead-based solder and components such as brass fixtures. This is a preventable problem. In fact, in the early 1990s, the Minnesota Department of Health approved the City’s Optimum Corrosion Control Program, which let Minneapolis water professionals figure out the best water chemistry strategies to prevent corrosion in our water system. As a result of that program, Minneapolis controls the pH of water so it’s noncorrosive and also adds a corrosion inhibitor called ortho polyphosphate. As a result, Minneapolis’ water is designed to form a thin scale inside pipes and fixtures to act as a barrier between the metal and the water we drink.
For more about how the City makes sure its drinking water is safe, please contact George Kraynick at 612-661-4923 or [email protected]
Mpls Drinking Water - Lead Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Hmong - Lead Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Somali - Lead Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Spanish - Lead Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly
Minneapolis Water is among the 620 public water supplies in Minnesota that are required by law to add a small amount of fluoride to their water. Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. Learn more about fluoride and Minneapolis Water fluoridation here.
Mpls Drinking Water - Fluoride Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Hmong - Mpls Drinking Water - Fluoride Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Somali - Mpls Drinking Water - Fluoride Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Spanish - Mpls Drinking Water - Fluoride Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
Minneapolis takes care of over 1,000 miles of underground water mains throughout the city. When homes or businesses connect to the water mains, the owners of those properties have the responsibility of maintaining their water service lines. When underground water lines or lines in basements freeze during extremely cold winters, the property owners must contact and pay a contractor to thaw out the line.
Why do water service lines freeze?
Water service lines freeze when excessively cold winters cause the depth of the frost to reach the service line or basement spaces where the water service line enters the home are allowed to freeze.
Who is responsible for water service lines?
In the City of Minneapolis, the property owner owns the water service line from the water main to the meter. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to maintain this line, including the curb valve, in good working order.
How do I know if my service line is frozen?
If there is no water anywhere in your house, and your supply line and master shut off valves are open, you may have a frozen service line.
Contact the City of Minneapolis Water Treatment and Distribution Services Division at 612-673-5600 and an inspector can be sent to confirm whether your line is frozen.
My service line is frozen. What should I do?
If your service line is frozen, you will need to call a qualified contractor who specializes in thawing frozen services. You can call the City of Minneapolis Water Treatment and Distribution Services Division at 612-673-5600 or Minneapolis 311 for information on contractors who do this type of work. Once your service has been thawed, we recommend that you follow the guidelines below regarding prevention to avoid a recurrence.
Is there a way to prevent my service line from freezing?
Most service lines are buried deep enough to not freeze in the winter. If you have not experienced frozen service lines in the past, it’s unlikely it will do so now. There is no certainty to know which service lines will freeze from those that will not. Ensure temperatures are kept above freezing in basement spaces where the service line enters the home and the water meter is located.
One method to prevent your buried service line from freezing is by keeping a faucet in the lowest level of your home running at a trickle (a pencil-width stream is all you need) of cold water until the ground thaws. If you choose this option, make sure your drain is free of debris to prevent overflowing or flooding. Also, place a highly visible note on the faucet reminding family members to not turn the water off. Turning the water off, for even a few minutes, could cause a recently frozen line to refreeze.
Do not turn off the faucet the moment outside temperatures rise above freezing. The ground takes longer to thaw, so wait until there’s a thorough thawing before shutting it off. This will take longer than a just few days of warm weather.
If I choose to run my water to prevent my line from freezing, who pays for the extra water and sewer charges?
You are responsible for the current water and sewer charges if you choose to run your water continuously as insurance against your service line freezing or refreezing. This will increase your monthly bill by approximately $100 per month, which is likely far less than the cost of repairing a frozen service line.
If you are a residential customer, contact the City of Minneapolis Utility Billing Office at 612-673-1114 to request a credit on your sewer base charges so your summer sewer rates will not be affected.
How can I correct this problem permanently?
If you have a service line that freezes frequently, you may want to consider hiring a qualified contractor to lower your service line to a depth that cannot be penetrated by frost.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please call the City of Minneapolis Public Works Water Treatment and Distribution Services Division at 612-673-5600.
Cleaning & Lining Water Main
Why clean and line water mains?
Minneapolis has 1,000 miles of water mains. About 750 miles were installed before the 1960s, when pipes were made of unlined cast iron.
As unlined pipes corrode and age, mineral deposits collect inside the pipes. The deposits can decrease water volume, which in turn can hinder firefighting. Mineral deposits do not pose a health risk; however, if deposits become suspended the water may become discolored.
Crews rehabilitate pipes by cleaning them and lining them with cement mortar or a structural compound. This process, which is described in more detail below, results in smooth interior surfaces that increase flow capacity, protect against corrosion, and extend service life by 50 years or more.
The City of Minneapolis rehabilitates approximately 7 miles of water mains each year. Pipes installed since the mid-1960s are made of ductile iron with factory-installed cement linings.
Schedule and Process Steps
Cleaning and lining projects generally take 1-3 months. Here is an overview of a typical project:
1. Temporary bypass piping is installed to allow water customers to enjoy uninterrupted service during the project.
2. The water main is isolated and drained. Access holes are excavated every 600-750 feet. This approach prevents unnecessary digging. At each access hole, crews cut out a section of the water main. A trench shield is installed around each access hole.
3. The cleaning and lining contractor scrapes off corrosion debris and thoroughly cleans and dries the pipe. Next, crews line the pipe with either cement mortar or a structural compound:
- Cement Mortar Liner: The installation process involves spraying a thin cement layer on the inside of the pipe. This restores water flow and water quality in water mains that are structurally sound, but that suffer from corrosion and tuberculation as shown in the picture on the right.
- Structural Compound Liner: This type of liner is used when the water main in not structurally sound. The installation process involves inserting a resin-saturated liner into the original pipe. The liner is cured with heat to create a new pipe within the old pipe that is completely free-standing and able to bear the pressure of the soil and traffic. Service taps are robotically drilled.
4. Once the lining is dry (after about 24 hours), the water main is flushed and disinfected. The water is tested to ensure it meets all federal water quality requirements.
5. The water main is placed back in service. Crews close the access holes, repair pavement, and remove the temporary bypass piping.
Temporary Water Supply
When your water main is taken out of service, it is drained and isolated from the rest of the distribution system.
Temporary bypass piping is installed aboveground to allow water customers to enjoy uninterrupted service during the project.
These pipes are installed along the curb and are connected to each building’s outdoor faucet by potable water hoses. City of Minneapolis plumbers evaluate each commercial property for the temporary water connection.
You can still attach a garden house to the connector installed on your outdoor faucet. Instructions are listed below.
Water from the temporary line will not run through your water meter. The City of Minneapolis will bill your property for estimated water usage based on your previous year’s usage. The costs associated with lining projects are not assessed to your property.
Water Meter & Building Access
Your building’s water meter may need to be temporarily removed to prevent backflow of domestic water into the water main during the project. If a Minneapolis Public Works employee needs to access your building for this reason or for any other project-related reason, you will be contacted to schedule an appointment. Please note that all City employees carry a City of Minneapolis identification badge.
Safety & Traffic
Many safety hazards are present in construction work areas. Please remind children not to play in or around the construction site or any piles of dirt in the street. Please drive slowly and cautiously in the affected areas.
Because most water main access holes are located at intersections, parking and driving lanes may be restricted. The City will do everything it can to keep traffic moving.
For More Information
If you have any questions about this project, please call the City of Minneapolis, Public Works Water Treatment and Distribution Services Division at (612) 673-5600.
Mpls Cleaning & Lining Fact Sheet (PDF Printer Friendly)
The City flushes the water hydrants to help maintain good water quality and to verify the hydrants are in working order. The flushing process may stir up mineral deposits in the water mains, causing your water to discolor. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine in advance whether or not this discoloration will occur. Discolored water is safe for drinking. However, it may damage laundry. Therefore, customers are cautioned against doing laundry, especially white clothing, while hydrants in your area are being flushed. Please warn children to keep a safe distance from the work area while City crews are flushing the hydrants.
To be notified when the hydrants in your area will be flushed, sign up to receive notifications.
Note: we cannot guarantee that you will receive a notification. please stay alert to the presence of City crews flushing hydrants in your area.
Billing Help and Information
Minneapolis Utility Billing provides billing services for Minneapolis residents for their water, sewer, stormwater, solid waste and recycling services. For billing help and information, please go to Utility Billing.
Utility Bill Emergency Assistance
Hennepin County Human Service department offers help and support to the City of Minneapolis residents by providing short-term aid to ease financial hardships, covered services include utility bills.
For information, call the Hennepin County Emergency Assistance team at 612-569-1900 or go to Hennepin Emergency Programs.
Leak Detection & Money Saving Tips
Click here for more information about leak detection and money saving tips.
Last updated Feb 10, 2021