Idaho News

Is brown water coming from pipes in your Boise Bench home? This meeting is for you

This photo of murky water comes from a house on Albion Street, near Latah, in Boise’s Central Bench neighborhood.
This photo of murky water comes from a house on Albion Street, near Latah, in Boise’s Central Bench neighborhood. Submitted photo

It’s being called a “brown water” town hall.

Suez officials will talk to Bench residents Thursday about why they’ve been having dirty-looking water coming out of their faucets — and explain what’s going to be done to solve the problem, a company spokeswoman told the Statesman.

The town hall meeting will run from 6-7 p.m. at Whitney Elementary School, 1609 S. Owyhee St. The meeting was organized by state Rep. John Gannon, a Democrat who lives in the Central Bench neighborhood. He noted that about 800 flyers about the meeting were distributed last weekend.

The water at his house and his neighbors’ homes has been brown more frequently than in years past. Some have complained publicly on the neighborhood Facebook group Boise Bench Dwellers.

“Just last Thursday night, at around 10 p.m., I went to brush my teeth only to see the water was a brown color,” Gannon wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to Suez. “We drained the ‘brown’ water from our system but I felt better to use bottled water to rinse. It is very difficult to trust that the water is not tainted to some degree.”

The discoloration is largely due to the nearly century-old iron water pipes that are rusting, Suez spokeswoman Jane Kreller said.

“It’s not unsafe to drink, just unappetizing,” she said.

Another contributing factor is collected sediment at the dead-end water mains; that’s flushed from the system every spring.

The water on the Bench is tested at five different locations every week to ensure safety — but Gannon won’t be drinking it until the problem is fixed.

“I’m certainly not going to drink it. Period,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “I’m not going to drink rust water. I think we need to do better with our drinking water. We can do better on the Bench.”

The area of the Bench that’s been identified as most affected is bounded by Vista Avenue on the east, Roosevelt Street on the west, New York Canal on the south and Rose Hill Street on the north.

Suez officials are trying to figure out which lines should be replaced first, Kreller said.

“We’re trying to narrow it down and make a game plan,” she said. “It’s an expensive and disruptive endeavor.”

Suez is asking customers who have brown water to call the company to notify them of the problem (208-362-7304), then run the water for 5 to 10 minutes until it’s clear. Suez will give those customers a “flushing credit” for 750 gallons of water, or about 15 bathtubs.

If the water does not clear, customers are asked to call the service line again, so a crew can be dispatched to flush the lines that are feeding the house.

“We know they’re frustrated,” Kreller said. “We want to be available to them, and we’re looking at solutions.”

Anyone with general questions or comments about the water quality issues on the Bench is asked to email Kreller at

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