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Water Department - Laboratory

2664 Harrisburg Rd. N.E. Canton, Ohio 44705

Hours: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM M-F
Voice: 330-489-3035 Fax: 330-489-3073

 Water Quality Issues

What is water hardness?

Water hardness is an aesthetic quality of water, and is caused mostly by the minerals calcium and magnesium, but is classified or measured based on the level of concentration of calcium carbonate. How hardness is classified is based on the following scale:


Classification: Calcium Carbonate Concentration 

Soft water.................0 - 60 milligrams per liter............or 0 - 3.5 grains per gallon 

Moderately hard water.....61 - 120 milligrams per liter....or 3.6 - 7 grains per gallon 

Hard water................121 - 180 milligrams per liter.......or 7.1 - 10.5 grains per gallon 

Very hard water.........over 180 milligrams per liter.........or over 10.5 grains per gallon


The water that the Canton Water Department delivers to its customers is considered to be “very hard water” but it varies slightly from our three water treatment plants. Following is a comparison of the three plants average hardness: 

Northeast Plant......................429 milligrams per liter....................or 25 grains per gallon 

Northwest Plant.....................497 milligrams per liter....................or 29 grains per gallon 

Sugarcreek Plant...................354 milligrams per liter.....................or 21 grains per gallon


What makes water hard?

Water is often called the universal solvent. Water picks up minerals as it travels many miles over rocks and through soil as it makes its way to water treatment facilities. Those minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium, are dissolved and held in solution even after going through the treatment process.

How can I tell if my water is hard?

The minerals in hard water can cause spots to form on dishes and a scale to form on showerheads, faucets and kitchen appliances like coffee makers. Boiling hard water causes the dissolved calcium to form a whitish or grayish or oily looking scum on top of the boiling water. Freezing hard water will also cause the calcium to form white particles that appear when ice melts in a glass.


Brown, red, orange or yellow water

Brown, red, orange, or yellow water is caused by Iron in the water. The different colors can be attributed to varying concentrations of the Iron in the water. There are two major sources that can cause water to be rusty: iron sediment in the water mains or the water pipes in your house, apartment, or business.

Canton Water Department’s annual flushing program normally removes any iron sediment accumulated in the mains serving the majority of our customers. However, in areas of low flow discoloration of the water can occur.

If an unusual flow of water through the main occurs, the iron sediment can become disturbed and temporarily suspended in the water causing a brown, red, orange, or yellow color. Unusual water flows are commonly caused by a broken water main or by someone operating a fire hydrant nearby. The water may be discolored if there is a fire in your area, the fire department is exercising hydrants or the street sweepers are operating in your neighborhood. This type of disturbance usually lasts for approximately twenty-four hours after which time the sediment will settle out and the water will clear.

This discolored water is not a health threat. If you, your child, or your pet happen to drink some of the discolored water, it will not make you sick. As Iron can stain clothing, it is best to wait several hours for the water to clear before doing any laundry. Also, do not use any hot water as you may draw this water into your hot water tank, which may need to be flushed out later. If you were doing laundry when the water became discolored, and your white clothing is stained call 330-489-3315 or 330-489-3035 to have an Iron remover delivered to you. Do not use chlorine bleach to attempt to remove stains and do not heat dry stained clothing. After the water has cleared, rewash the stained clothing following the directions on the Iron remover container.

The first step in solving a brown or yellow water problem is to determine its origin - is the problem is coming from your home/business's plumbing at some point after the water meter or is it coming from the water main.

The following are some common indications that the problem is coming from the water main:

The water was clear earlier but suddenly became discolored.

Only the cold water is discolored.

The water is discolored at all of the water faucets on the property and does not clear or improve after the water has been run for several minutes.

Some common indications that the problem is coming from the customer's plumbing include:

The water is discolored every morning or when first used after several hours of disuse.

The water clears after it has run for a few minutes.

The discoloration is only at one or several faucets, but not all of them.

The discoloration is only in the hot water.

If you are still not sure if the discolored water is due to your plumbing or if it's coming from the water main, do the following:

When you notice the water is discolored, turn off the faucet.

Immediately take a clean glass or a white bowl and go to the water faucet (hose bib) at the front of your house, apartment, or business. This faucet is usually near the main water shut-off valve for the property.

Turn the water on wide-open and run it for a full two minutes. Check your watch - two minutes is a long time.

After two minutes, fill the glass or bowl with water.

If the water is clear at the front faucet, your plumbing is likely the problem. If the problem becomes chronic and the water supply at the front is always clear, you should consult a plumber.

If the water at the front tap is discolored after running for two minutes, the problem is likely coming from the water main. Normally the rust will settle to the bottom of the water main and the water will clear within twenty-four hours. If the water is still discolored after twenty-four hours please contact us at 330-489-3035. 


White, milky, cloudy water 

Drinking water can sometimes look white, milky or cloudy. This occurs when air becomes trapped in the water. While this impacts the water appearance, it does not affect the water’s safety and will not harm plumbing systems. 

Air can get into water in many ways, including the groundwater pumping process, water pipeline maintenance, or the process of bring cold groundwater to the warmer surface. Because water pipelines are pressurized, air remains trapped in the water until you open the faucet and release the pressure - similar to the effect created when you open a bottle of soda. The thousands of tiny air bubbles that form give the water a white appearance.

 There is an easy way to test if the cloudy water is due to trapped air. Fill a glass with tap water and set it on the counter. Observe the water for a minute or two. As the tiny bubbles move upward the water will clear from the bottom to the top of the glass.


White, milky cloudy water


 What if I think I have a serious water quality problem?

Call the Canton Water Department laboratory at 330-489-3035 or after hours the dispatcher at 330-489-3315. We will ask you questions regarding the problem and take the steps required to resolve it.


 If you have any further questions, contact the Ohio EPA. 

Ohio EPA link:


If you have a private well and need more testing than the Canton Water Department Laboratory can provide, Heidelberg College can provide further testing at an economical cost. 

Heidelberg College Water Testing program link:

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