Find tips, problem prevention strategies, and general information about the quality of your water.
How hard is my water?
The water distributed by the Utility Board has a hardness that ranges between 10 and 11 grains per gallon or about 170 to 180 parts per million.
Hard Water Scale
Soft Water2 Grains per GallonExtremely Hard Water20 Grains per GallonWater Distributed by PUB10-11 Grains per Gallon
What do I need to know about a boil water advisory?
Why was I advised to boil my water?
You may be asked to boil your tap water during an emergency or other situation, such as:
- A water main break or repairs
- If the water pressure drops due to equipment failure or power outages
- If tests show that potentially harmful microorganisms may be present in the water
- If the water source has been flooded
- During other situations that warrant special action to protect the public’s health
How does boiling make my tap water safe?
Boiling the water kills microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or protozoa that can cause disease. Boiling makes the tap water microbiologically safe.
How long should I boil the water?
Bring tap water to a full rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using.
Can I boil water in the microwave?
Tap water can be boiled in the microwave (in a microwave-safe container), provided that the water reaches a full rolling boil for one minute. Place a microwave-safe utensil in the container to keep the water from superheating (heating above the boiling point without forming steam or bubbles).
Do I have to boil the tap water used to make beverages?
Yes. Boil all of the tap water you use for making coffee, tea, mixed drinks, Kool-Aid, or any beverage made with water. In addition, all tap water used for making ice for consumption must be boiled.
Should I boil the tap water used to make baby formula?
Yes. Only use boiled tap water or bottled water for mixing formula for your baby.
Do I need to boil water before using it to wash vegetables that will be eaten raw?
Yes. Boil all of the tap water you use for washing raw vegetables.
Should I boil the tap water used in cooking?
All tap water used in cooking must first be boiled for one minute, unless the cooking process involves boiling for one minute or more.
Do I have to boil my dish-washing water?
No. Adding a tablespoon of unscented, household bleach, such as Clorox, to a sink full of tap water should be sufficient to treat the water used for washing dishes. Bleach should also be added to the water used for rinsing dishes. Allow dishes and utensils to air dry before reuse.
You may wash dishes in an electric dishwasher, but be sure to use it with its heating elements turned on. After washing in an electric dishwasher, dishes should be rinsed in water with a tablespoon of bleach added, and allowed to air dry before reuse.
Should I boil tap water before brushing my teeth?
Yes. Any tap water that might be swallowed should be boiled before use.
Is it necessary to boil water to be used for hand washing? Is any special soap necessary?
Yes. It is necessary to boil the tap water used for washing hands; however, no special soaps are necessary.
What about my bath water?
It is recommended that you boil water for bathing or showering. If you do not boil water for bathing or showering, care should be taken to avoid getting water in the mouth or swallowing the water. Infants and toddlers should be sponge bathed with boiled water which has been allowed to cool. No special soaps are necessary. Care should be taken to prevent tap water that has not been boiled from getting into deep open or post-surgical wounds. Consult your physician or healthcare provider for wound care instructions.
Do I need to use boiled water for washing clothes or flushing the toilet?
Do I still have to boil tap water if I have a water treatment device?
Yes. Devices designed to improve the taste, odor, or chemical quality of the water, such as activated carbon filters, will not remove harmful microorganisms from the tap water. Boil the tap water to make sure it is safe.
Can I use bottled water instead of boiling tap water?
Yes. Bottled water can be used for all of the situations where boiled tap water is recommended in this brochure. Be sure that the bottled water is from a reliable source.
Can I haul water from my neighbor’s well or spring for drinking purposes?
No. You should only use water from an approved, tested source. Without routinely testing the water there is no way to know if the water is safe to drink.
Should I boil the tap water I give my animals or pets?
You can boil the tap water you give to the animals in your care. Your veterinarian can tell you if this precaution is necessary.
What should I do if I become sick?
See your family physician or healthcare provider. Your doctor may call the West Virginia Office of Environmental Health Services 304.558.2981 for information about the boil water notice. Your doctor should notify the local health department if he or she suspects your illness was caused by microorganisms in the water.
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants. People with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be at greater risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their healthcare providers. Guidelines on ways to reduce the risk of infection from microbiological contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791.
How will I know when it is safe to drink my tap water?
You will be notified when tests show that the tap water is safe to drink. You may be asked to run water to flush the pipes in you home before using your tap water or be given other special instructions. Until you are notified, continue to boil all tap water for one minute before use.
Why does my water look cloudy/milky?
Sometimes water appears cloudy or milky because air is trapped inside the water pipe, causing excess bubbles. You should let the water sit in a container, the bubbles will dissipate over time. If it continues, run your COLD water for several minutes.
Why is there chlorine and fluoride in our water?
Chlorine is added to kill bacteria and prevent waterborne illness. Chlorine levels vary depending on the distribution system. The chlorine levels in the water discharged from the treatment plants range from 1.0 mg/l to 1.5 mg/l (milligrams per liter or parts per million). Fluoride provides a defense against tooth decay and has been proven to promote oral health. Fluoride is added to tap water at a concentration of approximately 1 milligram per liter or 1 part per million, as recommended by the American Dental Association. Both of these substances are added to water during the water treatment process.
Can I remove the chlorine taste in my tap water?
Yes. Chlorine dissipates over time so fill a pitcher and place it in your refrigerator.
Will flushing hydrants affect water service?
Sometimes crews flush water to maintain water quality or test the hydrants. While the hydrants are flushing you may see lower than usual water pressure, but it will be restored when flushing ends.
How do I obtain information on the chemical analysis of the water at the tap?
If you have any questions, please contact the Water Treatment Plant at (304) 424-8532.
What can I do to conserve water?
You may install water saving aerators on your sinks and shower heads and turn off the sink water while you are brushing your teeth, the average person wastes 4 to 6 gallons of water needlessly for each brushing. The average family of four uses an estimated 200 gallons of water per day, so a little savings each day goes a long way. A typical water usage breakdown for a family of four shows in a percentage of water used:
- Toilet Flushing - 40 %
- Bath and Shower - 32 %
- Laundry - 14 %
- Dishwashing - 6 %
- Cooking and Drinking - 5 %
- Bathroom Sink - 3 %
I have no water in my home/business. What should I do?
If you have not been notified of a possible termination of service related to a delinquent bill, it is likely that your lack of water service may be related to an unscheduled service interruption caused by a break on a water main or on the water service line on your property. Please call 304-424-8535 during regular business hours, or after hours at 304-424-8532, for information and assistance. Always keep bottled water on hand for such emergencies.
How long will my water be out?
That depends on the nature of the service interruption. In most situations, service should be restored within 4 hours. However, in some cases, due to line size, surrounding utilities, or unusual conditions, it may take longer for service to be restored.
Why are fire hydrants flushed and flow tested?
Throughout the year you may see PUB and the Parkersburg Fire Department personnel flowing fire hydrants. This is done periodically to verify that water flows and pressures are adequate and appropriate for that portion of the distribution system. PUB personnel also flows fire hydrants twice a year to verify the operation of the hydrants and to remove sediment in the mains in order to maintain water clarity and quality in the distribution system.
Is my water safe to drink after flushing?
Yes, your water is safe to drink. Occasionally, water becomes discolored after hydrant flushing. If this happens, run your cold water in a bathtub for a few minutes until the water clears. If it doesn’t clear the first time, wait a few minutes and run the water again. If your water is still discolored after the second attempt, contact PUB at 340-424-8535 for assistance. You should avoid washing clothes until the water clears. In addition, removing and cleaning the aerators on your faucets will remove any trapped sediment.
What is causing my water to look rusty?
Fire hydrants are periodically flushed to maintain water quality in the distribution system and verify they are operating properly. Additionally, PUB and fire department personnel use hydrants to make assessments as to whether adequate pressure and flow are available to satisfy normal system demands, as well as the increased demand required in the event of a fire. These actions, as well as some construction or maintenance activities, or nearby water main breaks, may result in brief periods during which you may experience a discoloration of your tap water.
Why does water need to be disinfected?
Disinfectants are required because they prevent the spread of germs that cause diseases. Years ago, before disinfectants were used for drinking water, diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, and dysentery were common. Disinfecting drinking water has vastly improved the quality and safety of drinking water.
Why does my water have a chlorine taste (or smell)?
Chlorine is typically added to water for disinfection purposes (to kill any bacteria that may be present), but can also be used as an oxidant to remove odors, such as naturally-occurring hydrogen sulfide, or as an aid in the iron and manganese removal process. To reduce any chlorine taste or smell, try refrigerating your water before drinking. If the chlorine odor or taste is unusually high, please call 304-424-8535 and we will investigate.
Should I buy a home filtration unit?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, home treatment units are rarely necessary for health reasons. Most often, water treatment units are used to remove substances that affect the aesthetic qualities of water. If you do choose to install a home treatment unit, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions because improperly maintained units can actually cause water quality problems.
What causes odor in hot water?
The most common cause of odor in hot water is the water heater. If your cold water smells fine, check your water heater to ensure that the temperature setting is correct. Water heaters also need periodic maintenance (see manufacturer’s instructions). Please call 304-424-8535 if the odor persists, or if it is present in both the hot and the cold water.
Is bottled water higher quality than tap water?
Tap water providers and bottled water providers must meet the same water quality standards. In fact, tap water providers are required to conduct more frequent water quality testing and reporting than bottled water providers. Some customers prefer the taste of bottled water, and some choose bottled water because they have special health needs. Tap water, however, is a much better deal, costing 1,000 times less than bottled water.
What causes hard water?
Water’s hardness varies with its source. Hard water is not harmful to health, so the choice to buy a water softener is an aesthetic one. However, people on low sodium diets should be aware that many water softeners increase the sodium content of the water. The hardness level of Parkersburg’s water averages 180 parts per million (ppm) or 10.53 grains per gallon. Water is considered soft if the total hardness is less than 75 ppm; Moderately hard at 75 to 150 ppm; Hard at 150 to 300 ppm; And very hard at 300 ppm or higher. To convert the hardness of your water from ppm to grains per gallon, simply divide by 17.1
What causes the spots on my dishes?
Spots are caused by water hardness minerals (mainly calcium and magnesium), that remain after the water has evaporated. Spots can be eliminated through the use of a dishwasher rinsing agent.
What if I have dirty water?
It is a rare event when discolored water appears at your home or work, but it does happen. There can be many reasons, but discolored water usually originates in the water distribution system or private plumbing systems. Corrosion or rusting of the interior surfaces of metal pipes is a primary source of discoloration and particles that can appear in your water. There are several possible situations that can cause this material to be dislodged. The most probable of these causes are listed below along with the steps you can take to deal with a temporary problem.
Distribution System Causes
- Main Breaks: Water is delivered to your home or business through a network of underground pipes referred to as the distribution system. The principal pipe or conduit is called a main. Water mains in this distribution system can fail due to age, corrosion, high pressure surges, defective materials, or damage by construction work. Fire hydrants can also be broken off by vehicles. When a main breaks, the increased velocity of the water can pick up dirt and other materials that normally settle to the bottom of the pipes.
- Dead Ends: Every distribution system has mains that must be ended due to physical obstructions (rivers, roads, etc.) or city design features (sports complexes, cul-de-sacs, etc.). This results in a “dead end” that does not connect back with another main. Low usage in these areas results in sediment accumulation. Over time the lack of circulation can result in the appearance of discolored, foul tasting stale water.
- Fires and Fire Hydrants: The high velocity of water used to fight fires and to test fire hydrants can pick up sediment as described under “Main Breaks”.
- Construction Activities: Sometimes mains must be replaced or cleaned. Also, new buildings require connection to the existing water main. These and other similar activities may disturb the accumulated sediment and result in temporarily dirty water.
Private Plumbing System Causes
- Hot-Water Systems: Dirty water often originates in the hot-water tank. Hot water tanks can accumulate sediment and therefore need to be flushed clean.
- House Piping: Defective plumbing can lead to many dirty water conditions. Pieces of rubber or plastic washers that age and crumble can result in particles in the water. Improperly joined dissimilar materials (such as iron and galvanized, or copper and iron) can accelerate corrosion and turn water red or green. Rapid shut-off of faucets or automatic valves in washing machines can cause tremendous pressure surges that dislodge material from pipe walls.
- Cross Connections: Improper attachments for insecticide sprayers or hoses attached to faucets can lead to back-siphonage and introduce unwanted materials into the house plumbing system.
What should you do if you have dirty water?
- Determine the source of the dirty water- is it the hot or the cold water?
First try flushing the toilet, and look into the bowl. Since the toilet uses only COLD water, if the bowl is clear, then the problem is with the hot water. If the bowl water is dirty, then the cold water is affected, and activities outside your home should be considered as the cause.
If the hot water is the source, the hot water tank must be flushed clean, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If the cold water is the source, the cold water needs to be flushed. Don’t continue to flush the toilet after the initial test. Don’t use the hot water. Prevent further accumulations of sediment in the hot water tank by not using the hot water. If the dishwasher or clothes washer is running, stop it mid cycle until until the water is cleared up.
- Look outside.
If distribution system repair or maintenance is under way, this may be the cause. Also look for street sweepers or anyone else using a fire hydrant.
- Flush your plumbing.
Open the cold-water faucet in the bathtub all the way open, full force, with the drain open, for about five minutes. Most dirty water situations will clear up in this time. If not, turn the water off, wait 10-15 minutes, and repeat the flushing again.
How do I protect my pipes in the winter?
Many people welcome the crisp, cold winter weather, but nobody welcomes pipe-related headaches that can come with the dropping temperatures. On average, a quarter-million families have their homes severely damaged each winter because of frozen pipes that have burst or cracked, soaking carpets, ruining furniture and damaging walls. But you can prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting by taking the following steps.
Before the temperatures drop:
- Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces, attic, and garage. These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. The more insulation you use, the more you can better protect your pipes.
- Wrap pipes with heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables. Be sure to follow all manufacturer’s installation and operation instructions.
- Seal leaks that allow cold air inside, near where pipes are located (i.e. around electrical wiring, dryer vents, other pipes), with caulk or insulation. When it’s extremely cold, a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets, drip irrigation systems, sprinklers, and evaporative (swamp) coolers.
When it freezes:
- Let warm water drip from your faucet overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
If you’re away:
- Don’t set the thermostat in your house too low.
- Shut off and drain the water system by shutting off the main water valve (inside the structure) and turning on every fixture (both hot & cold) until water stops running. It’s not necessary to the fixtures open. But remember, if you have a fire protection sprinkler in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.
Finally, if your pipes do freeze:
- Turn on your faucets. If nothing comes out, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve, leave the faucets on, and call a plumber.
- Thaw frozen pipes with warm air from a hair dryer, if practical. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of the pipe. Never thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame.