Murky Mystery: What's Happening With the Water?

By Maxwell Miracle, News Editor

When people think of water, they might envision a transparent, light blue liquid. This is typically what students and faculty members anticipate when they visit one of the school’s many water fountains. However, the substance that comes out of these fountains sometimes looks very different.

The water flowing from water fountains occasionally has a cloudy, almost milky appearance. This liquid can be off-putting for those seeking to hydrate. “I was filling up my bottle at the fountain next to the cafeteria when I realized it was giving me white water,” said Katharine Bacon (10). “I feel like seeing unclear water might discourage students from using the fountains.”

Despite concerns about its unusual color, this water is completely harmless. The whitish hue is created by an excess amount of air within the school’s water supply.

According to the United States Geological Survey, cloudy water is most prevalent during the winter, during which stored water becomes relatively cold. Because cold water can hold more air than warm water, air becomes trapped within the liquid as it heats up on its way to the fountain. This creates tiny air bubbles throughout the water, giving it the atypical murky appearance.

In addition, excess bubbles can be generated when water moves from pipes — where it is pressurized and can contain more air — to leaving the water fountain, where it loses pressure and its ability to hold on to surplus air.

If it is allowed to settle, the bubbles will dissipate and the water will clear up. Nevertheless, some still find the water’s murkiness disturbing. “Even though it's just bubbles, the color still makes the water look unappealing,” said An Dao (10). “If the school could find a solution to the discoloration, the student body would feel better about hydrating.