A blue or bluish-green stain from drinking water is almost always an
indication of copper in the water. Rarely, a bluish color can also be
caused by the presence of microorganisms, such as blue-green algae.
As a general rule, though, if the water is leaving hard-to-scrub-off
stains in your sinks and tubs, or on the faucets themselves, it is
most likely a result of copper in the water (blue-green algae stains,
in contrast, would be a bit slimy and could be effectively scrubbed
I've tried to summarize here the knowledge about copper in water, and
the steps you can take. Ive also included links to a number of sites
where you can read more in-depth discussions if you're so inclined.
Let's start with the major points:
1. Most importantly, I am not a drinking water specialist, and Google
Answers is not a substitute for professional advice. Please be aware
of the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, and be sure to follow-up
on the information here by consulting some professionals in your area.
2. Copper in water is an increasingly common problem due to the
discoloration it causes, and the possibility of imparting a metallic
taste to the water. Most of the expert sources I consulted were of
the opinion that copper in water does not pose a health risk to
adults, though they recommend caution in using copper-tinged water for
mixing baby formula. Aquarium fish are also highly sensitve to
copper, and can be affected, even if people are not. However...there
is not universal agreement on this topic, and some folks are concerned
about the possible health effects to adults from too much copper in
3. Copper-tinged water has a number of effects, several of which you
mentioned in your question: (a) it can turn the water a blue-green
color. (b) it stains sinks, tubs, fixtures (c) it can impart a tint
to light colored hair, especially to dyed hair (d) copper causes a
green soap "curd" to form.
4. Copper in water most often comes from copper pipes. No one quite
knows why -- most copper pipes work fine without imparting much copper
to the water. But sometimes, significant quantities of copper can
leach from the pipes into the water supply. This may be due to the
acidity of the water, the presence of certain naturally-occuring
chemicals (the "hardness" or "softness" of the water), the presence of
microorganisms, the presence of other metal pipes, or even the way the
pipes are electrically grounded -- but as I said, no one seems to know
5. New copper pipes are no assurance of non-leaching. In fact, newer
pipes are thought to sometimes be more significant sources that older
pipes, since older pipes have had time to self-seal against leaching
by reacting with chemicals in the water.
6. In older copper pipes, lead solder was frequently used, so that
copper contamination sometimes goes hand-in-hand with lead
contamination. Lead in the water is generally considered a more
serious health problem than copper, so you should stay alert to this
possibility. However, since your system is relatively new, it may
well be the case that lead solder is not present.
7. In rare instances, the copper can also come from other sources,
like local contamination from a quarry or mining operation.
What to do?
Although there is occasional talk of filters, treatment systems, etc.,
there isn't any universally-agreed upon method for removing copper
from water, since conditions vary so widely from one jurisdiction to
the next. Water quality specialists in your area may have enough
familiarity with local conditions to recommend effective solutions.
There is universal agreement, though, that a sensible first step is to
drain the pipes before using water for drinking or cooking. That is,
let the water run for a minute or so, before using it. This is
especially true in the mornings -- or anytime the water has not been
used for four hours or more. Water that has been sitting still in the
pipes accumulates the highest concentrations of copper, so that
flushing this water out of the system is a prudent precaution.
Beyond that, there are two steps to take to get a sense of the scope
of the situation:
1. Fill a wide-mouthed WHITE container (a pail for instance) with
water from your tap. Look at it in good light. Is there a tint to
the water? Is it cloudy? Take note of the conditions, as you will
want to pass this information along to water-quality experts. Now let
the water run for a minute or so and repeat the test. Take note of
any differences in appearance (if the water is noticeably less-tinted
or less cloudy, then this is a good sign that flushing the pipes
before using the water is a good practice to follow).
2. Ask your neighbors to do the same. This will give you an
indication as to whether their water supplies are similarly tinged
with copper, and whether the issue is particular to your home, or
whether it is more of a community-wide issue.
With that information in hand, begin contacting the people on the list, below.
It is hard to say for certain who the ideal contact would be -- it
depends very much on how local responsibilities are divvied up and
also, frankly, on the people who pick up the phone when you call, and
their willingness to be of public service.
But don't be shy...call everyone on the list (and ask them who ELSE
you should be speaking to) and let them know you're concerned (and
possibly, that your neighbors are concerned as well), and insist that
the water be tested for -- at a minimum -- copper and lead. And test
the water as it first comes out of the tap, as well as after it has
been running for a minute or so, so you can compare the levels in
"new" water vs water that has been flushed through the pipes.
Also ask them about their experience with copper in water, and whether
they have any remediation steps to suggest.
Lowndes County Utility Department
Private Well Testing/ Septic Tanks
Environmental Health Department
Lowndes County Utilities Page
Lowndes County Utility Department is dedicated to providing an
exceptional product to all of our customers while exceeding all EPA
and EPD rules and regulations pertaining to all aspects of water
quality while offering unsurpassed customer service.
300 N. Patterson St.
Valdosta, GA 31601
Lowndes County Health Department
206 South Patterson Street
P.O. Box 5619
Valdosta, Georgia 31601
State Certification Officers for Drinking Water Laboratories
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Drinking Water Permitting Program
Floyd Towers, East Suite 1362
205 Butler Street, SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
In addition, the Culligan water treatment company offers free water
quality testing for those who fill out the form at their website:
If, for some reason, the county or state folks that I listed can't
assist you in having your water tested, then you may want to contact
Culligan to arrange for a free test. Bear in mind, however, that
they're out to sell you something, so don't let the test itself
pressure you into buying a Culligan system until you've explored all
With the steps above, I've taken you through the evaluation and
testing stage. You may find that simply running the water to flush
the pipes is the only solution you'll need. However, if you want to
explore the next steps, involving possible water treatment or filter
systems, then you should ask the local contacts what -- in their
experience -- has been the most effective solution for the situation
in your area.
I mentioned some additional sources of information that you can
explore on the internet. These are listed below, along with a few
excerpts from the pages that I thought might be of particular
interest. Some of the links are from water authorities in other
countries, but the information is good just the same, so I thought it
should be included here:
Blue or Blue-green Stains on Fixtures.
...If there are blue or blue-green stains on sinks, baths and
porcelain, there is probably copper in the water supply.
...Copper is a metal which is seldom naturally present in a water supply
....Copper is toxic to aquarium fish and can impart an undesirable
taste to the drinking water
....Beauty shop operators have a problem when copper is present
because it causes color variation in hair toners, especially for
...Copper also causes green soap curd to form. It is corrosive to
aluminum. Test for copper by looking for the blue or green sans on
...Copper is not usually considered harmful to humans but
concentrations in a range of 1 - 5 parts per million cause an
Water Quality Answers
What causes a blue/green color in water?
...Ordinarily "blue/green" color in water would be due to copper contamination.
...There are pigmented microorganisms that can colonize in water and
impart various colors such as pink or rainbow-like blues and greens -
especially on white porcelains in showers and bathrooms. However
these stains usually will readily wipe away, and can be eliminated
from occurring if the water is chlorinated.
...If the blue/green color, on the other hand, causes a stain on
fixtures that is tenacious (as hard water spotting would be), then it
is likely caused by something inorganic or metallic in the water.
[There's some pretty good information at this site...I've only
excerpted a bit of it ]
What causes copper pipe corrosion?
At the moment on one really knows what causes copper pipe
corrosion....The most agreed cause to-date is microbiological
(bacteria) influenced corrosion. The biggest mystery is why it can
affect one house (or only one section of pipe in one house) in a
street and not the others, even though all the properties are of a
similar age and using similar pipes and the same mains water.
...Some popularly mentioned causes are the hardness and pH of the
water, the age of the pipes, electrical earth currents and
electrolysis. But there is evidence of 'blue water' in many parts of
Australia and around the world - in many different quality waters, in
hard and soft waters, in mains water and from rain-water tanks, and in
many different pipe types both old and new.
What can you do about copper pipe corrosion?
...there is no guaranteed remedial treatment for copper pipe corrosion
other than to replace the affected section of copper pipe with
...Copper in drinking water normally is not a concern, as the levels
required to produce health effects in most people exceed the maximum
...The easiest and most effective method for reducing exposure to
copper is to avoid drinking or cooking with water that has been in
contact with your house plumbing for more than six hours. When first
drawing water in the morning or after a work day, flush the system by
running the cold water faucet for 2-3 minutes, or until the water gets
as cold as possible.
...Another option for reducing your exposure to copper is to purchase
bottled water. This may be a useful option, particularly if it will
be used by young children as drinking water, or for making infant
...If you are experiencing elevated copper levels in drinking water,
it may be likely that lead levels are also elevated. This is
especially true if the plumbing system in your home or apartment
contains lead solder joints, lead service lines, or brass fixtures.
Since lead and copper enter drinking water under similar conditions,
it is advisable to test for lead when testing for copper.
I hope I haven't overloaded you with too much information here. To
boil it all down:
--do the "white pail" test
--let your pipes flush before using water for drinking or cooking
--call the local water quality experts that I listed in your area
I hope this information helps you get a speedy and satisfying
resolution to your situation. However, before rating this answer,
please let me know if there's anything else you need. Just post a
Request for Clarification, and I'm at your service.
All the best,
search strategy -- Google searches on:
[ blue drinking water ]
[ copper drinking water ]
[ valdosta ga water (quality OR testing) ]