Water Service FAQ

I have no water in my home/business. What should I do? 

Chances are that there may be a service interruption caused by a break on a main or on the water service line on your property. Baltimore City customers can call 311 and Baltimore County customers can call 410-396-5352 for information and assistance. Always keep bottled water on hand for such emergencies.

What happens when I call?

When you call for service you will hear recorded prompts. Once you are connected to a service representative you should be prepared to provide a full description of your concern. Please try to be a specific as possible on the address/location. You will be given a service request number which you should write down as your record of having reported a problem. It is also our way of tracking our responses.

If your request is one which requires us to come to the scene, we will send an investigator to the location to do an evaluation. This report will determine the appropriate response in terms of scheduling, equipment and staff.

How long will my water be out?

That depends upon the nature of the interruption. For smaller mains – 12 inches in diameter or less – we can usually have the water restored the same day as a break. If it occurs in an area where there are other underground utilizes the restoration time may be longer.

Why are hydrants left open?

Periodically, you will see Public Works personnel releasing water from hydrants. Hydrant flushing is necessary to test them to make sure adequate flow and pressure is available. Flushing is also done to remove sediment from the pipes in order to maintain water clarity and quality in the distribution pipes.

Is my water safe to drink after flushing?

Your water is safe to drink. Occasionally, water becomes discolored after hydrant flushing. If this happens, run your cold water tap 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. You should avoid washing clothes until the water clears. In addition, removing and cleaning your faucet’s aerator will remove any trapped sediment.

How can I find out if hydrants will be flushed in my area?

Information regarding hydrant flushing can be obtained by calling 311 in Baltimore City and 410-396-5352 in Baltimore County.

How is our water tested?

On average, the City’s Water Quality Laboratory receives about 300 drinking water quality complaints each year. Our staff has been very diligent and successful in meeting the City’s goal of quickly addressing concerns through not only a comprehensive testing program but also by either initiating or suggesting remedial action for complaint resolution.

What is causing my rusty water?

As described in the previous section, fire hydrants are periodically opened to flush water mains in the system. Additionally, Fire and Public Works Department personnel routinely 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 activities and nearby watermain breaks, may result in brief periods during which you may observe moderate discoloration in your tap water.

In addition to following the suggestions outlined previously, you should be aware that the City is involved in an aggressive water main cleaning and lining program that will in good measure reduce the occurrence of this problem. More information regarding the water main rehabilitation program can be found on this web site.

Why is my water cloudy?

In the late fall and winter months the water that enters your homes can be quite cold. When this cold water enters your home plumbing, it is exposed to significantly warmer temperatures. This causes dissolved oxygen, that can reach and significantly higher levels in colder water than in warmer water, to escape in the form of “micro-bubbles” that can give water a cloudy appearance. If a glass of this water is allowed to sit for a short period of time the cloudy effect will dissipate.

What is causing my water to have an odd taste/odor?

Over the years, numerous cases of off-taste complaints have been resolved favorably when customers have been advised to disconnect out-door garden hoses. Often these hoses, with nozzles attached, can be found in a collapsed condition. It appears that in these cases, the rubber-like or plastic-tasting water that had been in the hose could, under the right conditions, be pulled back into homes by partial vacuum pressure. Additionally some customers can detect a slight taste and odor difference in times of drought when water is processed from the Susquehanna. This does not impact the overall quality of the water.

Are there really criminals who pretend to be DPW employees?

Yes! Occasionally criminals pose as DPW employees and ask to enter your home to test your water. DPW does not enter your home unless you call us and ask us to do so. We will never show up unannounced and ask for entrance into your house. Do not allow these individuals into your home. Try to get a good description of them and their vehicle. Call 911 immediately if you feel threatened. Call 311 to report such activity once all danger is passed.