You can report brown, black, rusty, yellow, or discolored household COLD water from the tap or faucet in single and multi-family dwellings, as well as in commercial establishments. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will not investigate complaints that are the result of an internal condition. The building landlord or superintendent is responsible for addressing complaints due to internal conditions.
The problem is internal if:
- It is occurring in only one location, such as the bathroom or kitchen
- The water clears after it has run for 5 to 10 minutes
- No other tenants in the building are experiencing the same problem (only applies to multi-family dwellings)
Street Construction and Discolored Water
Occasionally, street construction or water main work can cause discolored water. While it is not harmful, residents should not drink obviously discolored water. Washing clothes with discolored water may tint or stain garments. Discolored water occurs when disturbances to the water main, including an opened fire hydrant, cause pipe sediment to shift. Settling times vary, depending on the size of the water mains in the area. Residents should run their taps until water runs cold and clear. Reporting discolored water conditions helps the DEP engineers pinpoint any problems.
Fire Hydrant Survey - Reporting Brown Water
During the spring, the DEP checks and repairs fire hydrants located throughout the five boroughs. This process can cause tap water in area homes to temporarily run brown. There is no need for concern if water runs brown for a short time as a result of the hydrant survey program. Just let the tap flow until the water runs clear.
Household Hot Water
The building owner, landlord, or superintendent is responsible for addressing all complaints regarding hot water. This includes discolored, rusty, brown, smelly, or foul tasting hot water. These conditions in hot water are caused by either a problem with the water heater, corroded pipes, or both.