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Did You

  • The cost of one bottle of water from a vending machine is equivalent to the cost of drinking 8 glasses of tap water every day for a year.
  • A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.
  • The Water Authority maintains almost 1500 miles of drinking water pipes. If you put them end-to-end, they would stretch from Roanoke to Colorado Springs, CO.
  • At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons of water per year.
  • Water is the only substance naturally found on earth as a solid, liquid and gas.
  • Over 713 gallons of water go into the production of one cotton T-shirt.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant is regarded as one of the best bird-watching areas in the mid-Atlantic region.
  • The Water Authority maintains over 6,000 fire hydrants in our service area. Fire hydrants are connected to the public drinking water distribution lines, so water from a fire hydrant is drinking water.
  • There are over 23,000 manholes in our service area.
  • Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is the second largest municipal park in the United States.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant covers over 100 acres of land.
  • More people in the world have a mobile phone than have a toilet.
  • The Water Authority treats 19-million gallons of drinking water a day although we have the capacity to treat 56-million gallons per day.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant treats almost 37-million gallons of wastewater a day from all across the Roanoke Valley.
  • There are 51 drinking water storage tanks in our service area. They each hold between 500,000 – 2-million gallons of water.
  • Most of the treated drinking water used in a home is for toilet flushing.

water drops



Discolored Water - Causes and Remedies

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hydrant flow test
broken pipe shutterstock

 What Causes Discolored Water?

Changes in water pressure in the water distribution system, often resulting from water main breaks or when fire hydrants are used or flushed, can occasionally cause drinking water to be discolored. The discoloration is caused by sediments in pipes mixing with clear water. The sediments occur naturally from the oxidation of iron in pipes.  After Water Authority crews repair a main, fire hydrants in the area of the break are opened to flush discolored water out of the distribution system.

How Can You Remove Discolored Water?

While discolored water is ordinarily safe to drink, it is best to flush any discolored water from pipes by turning on the cold-water faucet that is at the lowest elevation in your home or business. Avoid turning on hot-water faucets so the discolored water is not drawn into water heaters.  The Water Authority also advises to flush from a faucet that does not have an aerator attached as the sediments you are trying to remove can become trapped by the aerator. 

If you still notice discolored water after a few minutes of flushing, please notify the Western Virginia Water Authority at 853.5700 or


Color Coding the Fire Hydrants to Record Flow Rates

The flushing of the fire hydrants is an important maintenance step that takes place every Spring and Summer.  There are over 6,000 fire hydrants in the Authority’s service area.  Each hydrant is flow tested so that the fire department knows how much water will come out of the hydrant in case of a fire emergency.  The flow rate is recorded electronically in a spreadsheet, and the hydrants are color-coded based on the American Water Works standard to visually indicate the flow rate.

Blue bonnets (or hydrant tops) = 1500 gallons per minute or more

Green bonnets = 1000-1499 gallons per minute

Yellow/Orange bonnets = 500 – 999 gallons per minute

Red bonnets = below 500 gallons per minute