What is the pink stuff on my bathroom fixtures?
That “pink stuff” that you may be seeing around your sink drains or in your toilets is naturally occurring airborne bacteria that has nothing to do with the quality of your water. Once airborne, these bacteria seek moist environments to grow.
Always keep bathtubs and sinks wiped down and dry. Frequently clean your sinks with a cleaning solution that contains chlorine. Three to five tablespoons of chlorine bleach can be periodically stirred into the toilet tank and flushed into the bowl itself. Cleaning and flushing with chlorine may not eliminate the problem, but will help control the bacteria growth. If you have a septic tank, use a non-chlorine cleaner, such as borax to avoid damaging your septic system.
Important! Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for your plumbing fixtures and countertops; chlorine cannot be used with some designer products. Use care with abrasives to avoid scratching fixtures, which will make them even more susceptible to bacteria.
Taste, Odor & Color Issues
My water is brownish in color, what should I do?
If your water is brownish or rusty in color, the cause is likely iron. Iron in drinking water is not a health risk but can cause discoloration and is often the result of aging pipes made of iron. During water main breaks or construction, interruption of normal water flow and disturbance of pipe walls may release the iron scale and cause discoloration. Discoloration from iron is usually temporary and should disappear after water is flushed from the distribution system or your home plumbing. South Island PSD recommends not drinking tap water if it is discolored. In addition, do not wash clothes when water appears rusty, because the rust can stain fabric. Flushing your cold water tap for 15 minutes should clear up discolored water. If the color does not disappear after 15 minutes of flushing, contact the South Island PSD at 843-785-6224
Why does tap water sometimes look milky or cloudy?
Milky or cloudy water is often caused by oxygen bubbles in the pipes that are released when water leaves the tap. Cloudiness and air bubbles do not present a health risk. During colder months, water in outdoor pipes is colder and holds more oxygen than household pipes. Consequently, when the cold water enters your building and begins to warm, the oxygen bubbles escape and cause the water to look cloudy or milky. Construction in the distribution system can also allow air to enter the pipes and cause the appearance of cloudy water. Hot water can sometimes be cloudy due to dissolved gases in the water escaping as the water is heated. Cloudiness and air bubbles should naturally disappear in a few minutes.
You can test this by running the cold water into a clear container and observing for a few minutes. If the water clears from the bottom to the top of the container, air bubbles are rising to the surface. If you try this and the cloudiness does not disappear after several minutes after collecting a sample of cold water in a clear container, contact South Island PSD at 843-785-6224. One way to remove the air is to run the cold water faucets in all sinks and tubs (after removing the aerators) for 5 minutes starting at the lowest level of the residence.
The strainers in my faucets are clogged with white particles. What could this be?
Aerators are strainers attached to your faucet or showerhead that break up the flow of water as it leaves your tap. Aerator screens can collect particles found in water and should be routinely cleaned throughout the year and replaced once a year. Particle buildup is often white and comes from a variety of sources.
The most common source of buildup in aerators is from the hot water heater. The hot water heater dip tube is made of a nontoxic plastic material called polypropylene. This plastic can break apart or disintegrate and travel in hot water to your faucet, eventually collecting in the aerator.
Dissolved calcium is naturally found in our drinking water and can naturally change to calcium carbonate in hot water heaters. Over time, calcium carbonate may accumulate at the bottom of the water heater and collect in your aerators.
To determine whether the material is calcium carbonate or polypropylene, place the material in a small amount of distilled vinegar. If the particle begins to "bubble" within a few minutes or is mostly dissolved within 24 hours, it is likely calcium carbonate. If no bubbling occurs or the particle does not dissolve, it is likely polypropylene.
If you are experiencing a calcium carbonate problem, we recommend flushing the hot water heater. Contact a plumber or handyman if you cannot drain and flush the water heater tank yourself. If you are experiencing a polypropylene problem, call the manufacturer of your hot water heater.
Why do I sometimes see black particles in my tap water?
The common cause of black particles in tap water is the disintegration of rubber materials used in plumbing fixtures. Plumbing gaskets and O-rings disintegrate over time and can collect in toilet tanks and around faucets. Similar problems are common in newly constructed or renovated buildings. In addition, the use of chloramine or chlorine as a disinfectant is known to cause rapid disintegration of some types of plumbing fixtures. If you experience rapid O-ring or gasket disintegration (within one to two years of installation), contact the manufacturer to request chloramine-resistant or chlorine-resistant plumbing fixtures.
If you have filters attached to your plumbing system or a water pitcher that uses carbon filters to remove contaminants, these can also contribute to the presence of black particles. The small carbon particles of these filters are black and can pass through in your water. Black particles can also come from precipitated iron and manganese in water, which may come loose from pipe walls after a large main break or major construction.
Flushing the system and your taps will likely resolve the issue of black particles caused by plumbing fixtures or construction. If black particles are from your filter, you should replace the filter as recommended by the manufacturer. If the problem continues after flushing and you have determined that the source is not a rubber gasket or filter, please contact South Island PSD at 843-785-6224
What is the white residue I sometimes find on cookware, in the shower and even in ice cubes?
White residue is commonly found in showers and kitchenware as the result of dissolved minerals found in water, such as calcium and magnesium. Mineral particles can also be visible in ice cubes made with tap water. These minerals are not a risk to human health but can build up on surfaces over time. Commercial products are available to remove white residue caused by minerals in water.
Why do I not have hot water?
South Island PSD does not provide hot water. South Island PSD only provides cold water to your residence. Hot water comes from the water heater and if you do not have hot water, please contact a plumber.
Sometimes I smell an odor from my tap. What could this be?
An odor from your tap is commonly from the sink drain and not the water. The plumbing beneath your sink, typically the u-shape pipe, can collect debris over time and create an odor at your tap. If you smell an odor, fill a clean glass halfway with tap water and smell the water in a separate room or outdoors. If the odor is no longer present, the odor is likely from the plumbing beneath your sink. We recommend pouring bleach or a disinfection product down your drain to remove any debris and odor. If the odor is not from the sink or the problem persists, contact South Island PSD at 843-785-6224.
Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?
A sewer, or "rotten egg" odor, from your tap water could be the result of several problems in your own home, and may not be directly related to the water supply. If you detect the odor in your kitchen faucet, it could be the result of a partially clogged drain or a dirty garbage disposal. The easiest way to verify this is to check another faucet in the house. If the water from the other faucet smells fine, then, more than likely, the bad odor is a result of a dirty garbage disposal or remains in your sink’s trap.
Another common cause for a "rotten egg" odor from house tap water can be associated with your water heater.
A water heater can produce a rotten egg odor when it is turned on. To determine if the odor is from the hot water heater, go the a sink closest to the water heater and fill a glass with water from the hot water faucet and a second glass from the cold water faucet and smell them. If the offending odor is detected only from the glass of water taken from the hot water faucet, the problem is most likely originating from the water heater. Newer water heaters are a real problem (see below). This also works to increase the smells.
Flushing the water heater yourself, or contacting a plumber to perform the flushing, and then resetting the water heater to the correct temperature will, in most cases, solve the problem.
How does my water heater cause smells?
It is relatively common to have this rotten egg odor in hot water only. That is because the water heater's "sacrificial" anode rod is to blame. This rod, made of magnesium, helps protect the tank lining from corrosion; instead, the rod itself corrodes. Unfortunately, as it does, the magnesium gives off electrons that nourish sulfate reducing bacteria – the bacteria that eat up the iron particles and in the process releases the sulfur smell. Removing this rod may eliminate the problem. Some have found aluminum rods can be installed with success.
Temperature is Important
Once you get the sulfate-reducing bacteria in your water heater you will want to get them out. Even if you drain your water heater, change the anode you’ll still have the bacteria. But, there is an easy way to kill them off. To eliminate sulfate-reducing bacteria from the water heater, you need to raise the water temperature above 140 degrees for 8 hours.
Bacteria die out at temperatures above 140 degrees. To safely follow this procedure, first make sure your water heater has a functioning temperature and pressure relief valve. Also, to prevent accidental scalding, warn users that water will come out of faucets extremely hot and should not be used at the increased temperature.
Drain Your Water Heater
Since our District’s water is moderately hard, it is best to drain your water heater at least once a year. This drains out the tiny particles that settle to the bottom of your water heater. Draining them out of your water heater does two good things. First, it removes the tiny particles that have settled to the bottom that may discolor your water and that provide sulfate-reducing bacteria their food supply. Secondly, you are heating water more efficiently as you are no longer first heating the sludge that settled to the bottom of the water heater before you heat the water.
If you are uncomfortable or uncertain on how to properly drain and flush a water heater, please contact a plumber.
How "hard" is the water?
Water hardness refers to the mineral content of water, commonly calcium and magnesium. South Island PSD’s water is "moderately hard" and may vary throughout the distribution system. Hardness also varies by seasons of the year. Hardness usually peaks during the warmer months (July through September) and is lower during the winter months.
When using dishwashers, you may notice a slight increase in "spotting" on glassware or white residue in kitchenware and showers. This usually occurs in the summer, when hardness is at its highest. This residue consists mainly of calcium carbonate, which is the same ingredient found in antacid products and does not pose a known health risk. Water hardness is measured in parts per million or grains per gallon. The hardness of the tap water is typically around 70 to 120 parts per million or 3 to 9 grains per gallon.
Will the minerals in hard water clog the water pipes in my home?
The calcium in your water will not build up fast enough to limit the useful life of your household plumbing. The calcium in hard water can create a natural protective coating on the inside of your pipes. If your home has lead or copper pipes or pipes with lead solder, this coating has a beneficial effect by preventing lead and copper from leaching into your home’s water supply. However, mineral buildup in sink aerators may restrict water flow. Simply remove the aerator, clean it with vinegar, and replace. Hot water re-circulating systems used by commercial customers and in larger homes are more subject to scale buildup and require close monitoring of those systems.
Why is my silverware tarnishing after I use my dishwasher?
Any silver plated or sterling silverware should be hand washed and not cleaned with an automatic dishwasher. Most detergents for automatic dishwashers are too harsh for silverware and the heat drying cycle from the automatic dishwasher will tarnish or discolor the silverware.
How does lead enter the water system?
Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion or wearing away of materials containing lead that are in household plumbing. Lead enters the water from the corrosion of materials containing lead. Lead service lines that connect your house to the mains in the street, lead-based solder used to join copper pipes, and brass and chrome-plated brass faucets in your home can wear away over time and release lead. When water stands for several hours in lead pipes or lead plumbing fixtures, lead may dissolve in drinking water. If
There is no detectable lead in South Island PSD’s sources of drinking water.
Lead solder was banned in 1986. Lead in drinking water is almost always associated with the corrosion of lead-containing plumbing fixtures and solder used in constructing homes, businesses, and schools.
Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has reduced the maximum allowable lead content -- that is, content that is considered "lead-free" -- to be a weighted average of 0.25 percent calculated across the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures and 0.2 percent for solder and flux.
If you have an older home with brass and chrome plated brass facets, or copper with lead-based solder, your tap water may have higher levels of lead when you first draw water from the tap in the morning or any time after you have not used the water for several hours. Flushing your water for two minutes when the tap has not been used for several hours can bring in fresh, high-quality water from the distribution system.
South Island PSD uses ductile iron and PVC pipe in our distribution system. The majority of South Island PSD's water mains are made of ductile iron with a concrete lining and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Most household plumbing is made of PVC, galvanized steel, or copper with a minimal lead content.
South Island PSD tests for lead in drinking water.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) require South Island PSD to test lead levels every three years.
When we test for lead, South Island PSD draws water samples from customers' faucets in communities throughout our service area. We only have to test every three years because of the continuous low levels of lead detected in our water.
What is a Lead and Copper Action Level?
The EPA sets the Lead and Copper Action Level. This is not a health-based standard. Exceeding an action level requires specific changes to drinking water treatment to reduce pipe corrosion or other requirements that a water system must follow. The action level for lead and copper is triggered when the concentration of lead exceeds 15 parts per billion or the concentration of copper exceeds 1300 parts per billion after the water has been sitting in the pipe for at least six hours.
Is there anything I can do to make my water safer if I have a lead service line, pipes or fixtures containing lead?
Some steps you can take include:
Is fluoride in South Island PSD drinking water?
Yes. The groundwater sources provide natural fluoride to the drinking water supplied to the South Island PSD distribution system. South Island PSD does not add any additional fluoride in the treatment process.
What is the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water?
The optimal level for fluoride is intended to prevent tooth decay and protect public health. In January 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a revised recommendation for the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water. Based on new research, HHS recommends a fluoride level of 0.7 mg/L as optimal for ensuring public health protection. In the past, HHS supported a fluoride level between 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L, as safe and effective in preventing tooth decay. For more information on the HHS recommendation, please visit the HHS website http://www.hhs.gov/
What is EPA's drinking water standard for fluoride?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) and maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for fluoride is 4 mg/L. According to the U.S. EPA, "Some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of the MCL over many years could get bone disease, including pain and tenderness of the bones. Fluoride in drinking water at half the MCL or more may cause mottling of children's teeth, usually in children less than nine years old. Mottling, also known as dental fluorosis, may include brown staining and/or pitting of the teeth, and occurs only in developing teeth before they erupt from the gums." For more information about fluoride, visit the EPA website https://www3.epa.gov/
What is the maximum contaminant level (MCL) and maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG)?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a MCL is the "highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology." A MCLG is the "level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety."
Where can I find fluoride sampling results?
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) regularly test the fluoride levels from the groundwater sources that South Island PSD uses for drinking water. South Island PSD fluoride data is available from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control website under the DRINKING WATER WATCH link http://dwwweb.dhec.sc.gov:8080/DWW/ South Island PSD’s fluoride results from the groundwater source water are included in South Island PSD Water's Annual Water Quality Report.
Occasionally, some of our customers can detect a taste similar to chlorine or disinfectant. To ensure that we meet federal water quality standards under the National Safe Drinking Water Act, we use chlorine and sodium hypochlorite to disinfect the water supply. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires every water system that treats drinking water to maintain certain residual levels of chlorine throughout their water distribution system at all times. To meet this EPA requirement, we periodically create a temporary, stronger presence of chlorine in the water. Although this procedure may briefly alter taste and odor, your water is safe to drink – there are no associated health risks.
Does South Island PSD monitor chlorine levels?
South Island PSD routinely monitors chlorine levels throughout the water distribution system. Chlorine levels vary depending on where you live relative to the water treatment plant.
Disinfection byproducts (DBPs)
Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) form when chlorine and other disinfectants react with naturally occurring materials in the groundwater source. Long-term exposure to DBPs may be harmful to human health. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces regulatory limits for two groups of DBPs linked to health risks, known as total trihalomethanes (TTHM) and five haloacetic acids (HAA5).
Is there sodium in my drinking water?
Yes, but the levels are considered to be very low by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The EPA currently does not regulate sodium levels in drinking water. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) tests regularly for sodium and the range from our groundwater source water is 23 to 120 parts per million (ppm).
The FDA reports that most American adults tend to eat between 4,000 and 6,000 mg of sodium per day, "and therapeutic sodium restricted diets can range from below 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg per day." It lists the following nutrient guidelines for food labeling:
-Low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
-Very low-sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
-Sodium-free: Less than 5 mg per serving
It is important to note that sodium is an essential nutrient. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommends that most healthy adults need to consume at least 500 mg/day, and that sodium intake be limited to no more than 2400 mg/day.
Should I use a home water filter?
Our water meets all drinking water standards and does not require additional treatment or filtration beyond what it already receives. However, the choice to use a home filtration system is yours to make. Home filtration devices can reduce chlorine levels which some would prefer not to taste or smell. In some cases, these filtration products can also remove metals such as lead and copper that could dissolve in the water during contact with household plumbing. The removal of fluoride is also possible with a more expensive reverse osmosis type filtration device. If you decide to install and use a home water-filtration system, it is important to specify a device that will achieve the desired result as well to follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance protocol.
South Island PSD is not responsible for water after a home water filter since this changes the chemistry of the water that we originally provide.
Should I purchase a home water softener?
A water softener can improve the aesthetic qualities of your household water. For example, soap products perform better in softer water. But a water softener does not improve the quality of water as it relates to health. Most water softeners exchange sodium for existing calcium and magnesium in the water and therefore, increase the sodium content of the water. If the sodium increase in softened water is a concern, you should consult your physician. There is evidence that softened water may be corrosive to certain metallic pipe materials. Some water softeners also discharge brine into the wastewater system. The cost of softening water is another factor that must be taken into consideration. Water softeners can consume from 15 to 120 gallons of water for every 1,000 gallons of water processed. Accordingly, the decision to purchase a home water softener is one of personal preference that can be discussed with a sales representative. South Island PSD is not responsible for water after a water softener since this changes the chemistry of the water that we originally provide.
M I S C E L L A N E O U S
C O M M O N Q U E S T I O N S
Q: Where is my home's water shut-off located?
A: In the event of a water emergency, the shut-off to your home can be your best friend! The valve is usually located directly in front of or just past your meter box where the service line comes in. Typically this is near the street, so try to look for it first. If you can't find it, call us at 843-785-6224 and we'll be glad to help!
Q: There is a pump station (lift station) close by with a red light on and a loud buzzing alarm, what should I do?
A: Most of our Pump or Lift Stations are monitored by our telemetry system, so chances are a SIPSD employee is already on the way to investigate the problem. However, you can call 843-785-6224 to check on our response status. After 4:30 P.M., the same number can be called, but you will reach our after hours answering service, which will then notify our on-call employees. Please do not try to reset or silence the alarm. We'll be there as soon as possible to silence the alarm and fix the problem.
Q: I'll be renting a property in your service area, how do I set up water and sewer service?
A: Please download the "Tenant Application" from our "Forms" page, complete the form, and turn the form by email or at our Administration Office located at 2 Genesta Street. You may also stop by the Administration Office and get the form there. Any questions please feel free to call us at (843) 785-6224.
Q: I have questions about backflow prevention, who should I talk to?
A: Please call us at 843-785-6224 between the hours of 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Monday-Friday and we'll be glad to assist you!
Did you know that there are three water & wastewater utility companies on Hilton Head Island?
If you aren't in our district, try the two others listed below!
H I L T O N H E A D P U B L I C S E R V I C E D I S T R I C T
Serving the north areas of Hilton Head Island from Windmill Harbor to the Hilton Head Resort
B R O A D C R E E K P U B L I C S E R V I C E D I S T R I C T
Serving mid-island areas including Palmetto Dunes & Shelter Cove
W A T E R Q U A L I T Y Q U E S T I O N S
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