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Water Discoloration Was a Brief, Isolated & Safe Event

Posted on January 3, 2017

(Kansas City, Mo.) – Early morning, Friday, December 30, 2016, during the water treatment process at KC Water’s Water Treatment Plant, an excess of sodium permanganate was added to the raw water treatment system causing the water to have a pink color.

As a result, some customers, primarily north of the river (nearest the Water Treatment Plant), noticed a temporary pinkish hue to their tap water. The discoloration lasted approximately 24-48 hours as the chemical quickly dissipated in the distribution system. Kansas City’s drinking water continued to meet all primary drinking water standards and remained safe to drink.

“Providing Kansas City with safe drinking water is our primary mission and is at the heart of what we do,” said KC Water Director Terry Leeds. “We appreciated the response we received from customers who value the quality product we provide, and we thank those who were affected for their patience. In addition, we appreciate our partners at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources who provided helpful and supportive consultation during the brief event.”

Sodium permanganate is a widely used water treatment chemical that is used to control taste and odor and remove organic carbon compounds. Permanganate contains the elements oxygen and manganese. Manganese is an element required in very small amounts in the diet of humans and animals, and it is routinely ingested as part of one’s everyday diet. For a very brief period, levels of manganese in some customers’ water rose to levels found in food. For example, a double hamburger contains more manganese (0.7 mg) than a liter of Kansas City’s tap water did at its most pink (0.68 mg/L).

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends concentrations “to or below 0.050 mg/L,” which is a secondary standard that is “based on staining and taste considerations.” The EPA states that this “is not a federally enforceable regulation, but is intended as a guideline for States.” For health considerations, the EPA recommends concentrations do not exceed 1 mg/L. Additional information can be found in the EPA’s “Drinking Water Health Advisory for Manganese” document, which can be found HERE.

Customers with questions or concerns about their tap water may contact KC Water’s Laboratory by calling 816.513.7000 (available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or emailing This would include customers who had a negative experience with discolored water. Because customer satisfaction is a priority, KC Water wants to ensure customers weren’t negatively impacted by this brief and isolated event.

More information about Kansas City’s drinking water and water treatment process, including KC Water’s Annual Water Quality Report, can be found HERE.

For more information, please contact Brooke Givens, Media Relations Coordinator, at or 816.513.0284.


KC Water maintains and operates water treatment and distribution systems, stormwater management systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems for residential and business customers in Kansas City and for wholesale customers in the Kansas City area. KC Water is primarily funded by fees charged to customers based on their use or impacts on the three utility systems.

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