Look, taste and smell

We explain what to do if you notice a change to your water.

If water looks red, brown or yellow

It's probably caused by

  • Hydrant flushing or firefighting activity
  • These activities increase water flow and disturbs mineral deposits in iron pipes

The water is safe to drink

You should not

  • Use hot water because sediment will collect in the hot water tank.
  • Do laundry because the iron can stain clothing.

Water should clear in a few hours

  • Check it hourly by running the cold water tap located in the lowest point in your home. Run it for two to three minutes each time.
  • Once the water runs clear, flush the pipes in your home by running all cold water taps for a few minutes.
  • If it doesn't clear in a few hours, call 311

If water looks cloudy or milky

It's probably caused by

  • Tiny air bubbles in the water
  • In response to a change in water pressure or temperature
  • Common in the fall and spring

Water should clear in a few minutes

  • Fill a glass with water and let it sit for a few minutes
  • The bubbles should rise to the top and cloudiness disappear
  • If it doesn't clear in a few minutes, call 311


If water smells or tastes bad

It's probably caused by

  • Unsanitary sink plumbing, garbage disposal, or nozzle screen on the sink spout — not by the water itself. 

Take these steps to determine the problem

  • Check the s-shaped pipe under your sink — it is especially prone to collecting debris.
  • Run the faucet with the drain closed to see if the water still smells.
  • Fill a glass halfway with tap water and smell the water in a separate room
  • Check the water coming out of other taps in your house to see if they have the same problem.

If it's not a plumbing problem and the odor persists for more than a day

  • Call 311
  • We will ask:
    • 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?



Contact us

Minneapolis 311


7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Monday – Friday

See list of City holidays

Public Works Water Treatment & Distribution Services


For water emergencies


For water quality information



4300 Marshall St. NE
Fridley, MN 55421

This building is closed to the public.