Coal Grove, Ohio dealing with hot pink water

Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 8:13 AM EDT
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Hundreds of people woke up pink water in their taps and toilets Monday morning in Coal Grove.

Residents in Coal Grove woke up to pink water in their faucets and toilets.

Officials said there's no danger to people, but maybe for your clothes.

The color of hot pink is more associated with cotton candy or Pepto-Bismol, but that was the shade of faucets for residents like Dora McClellan.

She was warned by her husband just before starting a load of laundry.

"If my husband hadn't told me, I wouldn't have known," McClellan said.

Her toilets have the same shade.

McClellan said she likes hot pink, just not for her water.

Stephen Burchett, the water treatment plant operator for Coal Grove said a pump at the water treatment center malfunctioned overnight, dumping in a large quantity of sodium permanganate into the water.

He said it’s not dangerous for drinking.

"No, once it dilutes out, it is not dangerous at all."

Sodium permanganate takes the iron and manganese out of the water. It oxidizes them, basically turning it into larger particles that filters can then remove before sending it to homes and businesses.

Burchett showed us how it works.

By adding some iron remover in the sink to the sodium permanganate, it turns clear instantly.

The water plant is not monitored 24/7.

Burchett said the pump broke sometime after the last check Sunday night.

While usually about seven pounds of sodium permanganate is used daily, more than 100 pounds went into the system in a very short time span.

"In the span of say six hours,” Burchett says, “it is so concentrated that a little bit goes a long, long way. It causes a heck of a mess in your system."

Rhonda Dillon was one of the unlucky ones. She ran a load of laundry before realizing her water was pink.

It wreaked havoc on her clothes, but not the pink you would think. Instead some treasured T-shirts she wears just once a year were stained with brown because of the iron still in the water.

"It was too late for my church camp shirts, which they can't be replaced," she said.

She stopped by the water office to pick up free iron removal products.

"Hopefully, hopefully it will come out. I'm hoping."

McClellan was watching and waiting. She already uses bottled water for drinking. This hot pink isn't changing that.


"There's no way I could drink that,” she said. “I'd drink the pool water before I drink this."

Coal Grove flushed its water system several times Monday morning. Otherwise it's a relative cheap fix, likely around $1,500.

It's now just a matter of residents of running the pink water in the pipes so that the clear water can replace it.

If you had any laundry issues, you can stop by the water office to pick up free iron removal products for yourself like Dillon.

Residents also expressed some concerns about not being notified by telephone.

Burchett said they posted something on their website first thing as per usual but will look into some type of 'all call' notification for customers. He didn't think that was possible with the current system.


The Village of Coal Grove issued a statement about pink water running through the village’s system.

According to the village, the discolored water was caused by a pump malfunction at the water plant. The malfunction caused “too much of a chemical to be released into the water system.”

They say the chemical is not harmful.

Village officials advise people not to drink, bathe, or wash clothes using the water until it is clear.

The statement was posted on the village's website just before 9 a.m. Monday and officials say the water is expected to be clear in three to four hours.