Neon pink water flowed from home faucets in St. Michael, Minn., on Monday, surprising many residents after a mix-up at the water treatment plant sent more than 100 gallons of pink chemicals into the water supply.
A FOX 9 viewer sent in this photo of her Pepto-pink water Monday morning. The city water department told her the pink water was caused by a malfunction of the chemical pump that pumps rust inhibitor into the city's water.
"When I first saw the picture, I first thought it was bubble gum -- or you know, bubble bath," said Kim Walden.
It's not uncommon to have a little rusty water out in the country, but Walden said she couldn't believe what she saw when her daughter called her to check out their faucet.
"I said, 'You know, it'll be alright. Let it run for a little bit -- and I'd tell dad,'" Walden remembered. "She goes, 'Now the toilet's all pink.'"
As sinks filled with bright pink water, many residents searched for a local source.
"I figured womething was wrong with the water heater," said Rich Brown. "I checked and it was pink!"
After a while, that perplexing pink color had many residents seeing red and asking Joint Powers Water Customers just what was going on.
Kelly Daleiden says a chemical called potassium permanganate, which is used in the filtration process to remove iron and manganese. Inside the plant, the pipes are color-coded to keep track of where the chemical is going.
According to the utility, the wells were shut down on Sunday for maintenance -- but it seems the chemical feed kept running, releasing about 130 gallons of the solution into the lines.
Yet, although it may look disgusting, officials say you'd have to drink about 5,000 gallons of the water to get ill.
"The color is a little shocking. It doesn't take very much to make it really bright pink or purple -- not much at all," said Daleiden.
Still, the chemical can stain laundry, but a solution of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and water should take care of it.
After the quirky coloration was discovered at about 5 a.m., the city opened a few water mains to clear the lines. Anyone who still has discolored water is asked to run their faucets for a few minutes.
In a Monday press release, St. Michael city officials said "the water discoloration this morning was caused by a pump which over-fed potassium permanganate into the water treatment process." They assured the chemical is non-toxic. That full statement can be read below.
"We have recently received reports of water discoloration in a number of homes in St. Michael, Albertville and Hanover and have issued this communication to keep customers updated.
The water discoloration this morning was caused by a pump, which over-fed potassium permanganate into the water treatment process. Potassium permanganate is non-toxic and used to remove iron and manganese in the water treatment process. The pump has been fixed. We have flushed parts of the system to help resolve the color issue.
We absolutely understand the inconvenience it poses to customers. Affected residents should be advised that the water remains safe to drink. Some customers may continue to experience temporary discoloration as this problem is resolved and we respect their patience. Affected customers may choose to allow taps to run until the color returns to normal.
We expect that any residual color will be resolved quickly. In the meantime, we ask any customers with questions about their water call us at 763-497-3611."