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Old 29-06-2020, 19:53   #1
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White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

We're in an Annapolis-area marina for a few days and are filling our potable tanks as needed from the marina's "city" water system, using their hose.

All of a sudden today, the water coming from the faucets & shower was all white foam! Oh, and it had a weird smell, too -- one neither my wife nor I could identify.

We don't feel like we're in danger, because we never drink from the tanks. But we would like to use the water for showering and doing dishes.

What could cause this? Our plan is to drain the tanks (~50 gal ea), then fill them with "fresh" water and a cup (8oz) of Clorox bleach (7.5% NaOCL). Oh, and we're going to fill them using OUR hose, not the marina one.

Has anyone experienced this? What did you do? What was the result? Thx!
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Old 29-06-2020, 22:21   #2
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Did the water clear up pretty quickly? If so, it could have been air bubbles. If there was some maintenance activity that drained the lines (and Covid advice is for businesses to replace stagnant water sitting in their buildings), this might be what you saw. You can call the public works department and ask about it. They might offer to run a sample on the water especially if you think it still has a smell. As a rule of thumb though, I never use someone else's hose for my water tanks. No telling what they've done with them.
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Old 29-06-2020, 22:31   #3
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

I second Gamayun's suggestion to check with the water supplier. Get a sample in a clean glass container and take it to them.
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Old 29-06-2020, 22:33   #4
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Water supplies around the Chesapeake are a bit hit and miss, particularly in summer. We always ran the faucet to clear what is in the dock lines, we then attached our own cleaned hose with an in line charcoal filter with pressure limiter. It slows the fill but you at least mitigate bugs getting in to your tanks. At one marina our filter clogged with green slime within a minute. This stuff dies and stinks.
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Old 30-06-2020, 06:31   #5
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
Did the water clear up pretty quickly? If so, it could have been air bubbles.
I wish! No, this was a smelly, "sturdy" foam, not just aeration.
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Old 30-06-2020, 06:37   #6
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
As a rule of thumb though, I never use someone else's hose for my water tanks. No telling what they've done with them.
Yes, I've decided to adopt this practice from now on. Thank you!

The folks in the neighboring slip always make-up and take-down their own hose each time (they're liveaboards). I asked them, and they've never had any foam. Our water comes from the same "main" as theirs, so I'm 90% convinced that the water in the main is good, and the problem was the marina's dirty hose. Now, we're flushing & treating, then all should be OK (I hope...)
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Old 30-06-2020, 06:39   #7
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

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...We then attached our own cleaned hose with an in line charcoal filter with pressure limiter. It slows the fill but you at least mitigate bugs getting in to your tanks.
This sounds like an excellent idea. Can you please link to the filter you're using (or similar)? Many thanks!
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Old 30-06-2020, 06:43   #8
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

I always use my own hose as well. And even at my home slip, never leave the hose out on the dock. I immediately drain, coil and bring it aboard after every use. Draining it right away seems to keep the hoses from getting gross over time.
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Old 30-06-2020, 06:49   #9
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Here's a really inexpensive cartridge water filter:

https://www.amazon.com/DuPont-WFPF13...%2C373&sr=8-13
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Old 30-06-2020, 06:56   #10
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

And here are some carbon filters for it. Looking it up caused me to start thinking about my house water. Our Spectra watermaker makes better (fewer solids, etc.) water than our city supply

https://www.amazon.com/DuPont-WFPFC8...s%2C217&sr=1-7
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Old 30-06-2020, 08:37   #11
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Oddly I just experienced the same problem. I turned on the water and it came out white milkish/foamy. It was water from last summer and the tank was low. So my wife thinks I over nuked it with bleach last summer and that is the reason. I just refilled the tank last week and it seems to have cleared up.... but I'm still not 100% it was the bleach.
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Old 30-06-2020, 11:06   #12
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Was the boat water system winterized with potable antifreeze last fall? Was this your first boat use this year? All that antifreeze needs to be purged by filling and flushing the system. The fastest way is to put about ten gallons in each tank and pump it out, repeat a few times.
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Old 30-06-2020, 11:30   #13
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Hmmm.... I think your on to something. I DID have anti freeze in it now that you mention it. Like the OP I don't use it for drinking water. But makes sense for next year...10 gallons and repeat. Thanks !
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Old 30-06-2020, 11:40   #14
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Could have been maintenance on the water lines. They put up placards on the road when they do it, but if you are aboard you may not see them.
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Old 30-06-2020, 13:27   #15
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Re: White, foamy water coming from potable tanks

Check with the marina first. They might be aware of what’s going on and might have neglected to mention it. Which marina are you at?
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