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The mystery of the windex-colored water

Well, we had a bit of an adventure yesterday. I woke up to Amy shrieking in terror. Came out to see what was the matter, and the water was running blue. And smelled like borax. Amy had drunk some of the clear water just prior to this, and so she's been worried all day that she was poisoned. We spent several hours calling all kinds of places to find out what it was, because posion control couldn't tell her what to do until we found out what it was. Steve, the property manager, was not helpful. Not only had he failed to notify us that someone was doing plumbing work on the apartment to one side of us (14, I think), he didn't seem to believe us when we said that the water was blue. He also refused to accept any responsibility, nor to reimburse us for bottled water until we were sure the water was safe again. (The water ran blue for 15 minutes or so until going clear but still stinky.)

The Portland water people assurred us that it couldn't be anything from their end, and considering it was only doing this for the kitchen sink faucet, I believe them. They also said nothing native to pipes looks or smells like that. They figure somebody put something in the pipes at our end, which I'm assuming is from the next-door neighbor's plumber.

When Steve proved unwilling to pull his head out of his ass long enough to take us seriously, we went over his head to the company he works for, and they bullied him into taking a look and into calling a plumber. The lady we spoke to also made a note or dispensation or somesuch to reimburse us for any bottled water we needed until we could be sure the water is safe to drink. (Amy has not yet died or doubled over in agony or anything like that, so she probably dodged a bullet, but we don't know for sure.)

Steve's visit to look at the sample of blue water we had collected was his shortest yet. He usually talks your ears off for at least 5 or 10 minutes, but he was in and out in maybe 2 minutes, and on the phone to the plumber as he left. A plumber who was different from the one in the next apartment later came and took some of our sample (we kept some more just in case), and took samples of our current cold and hot water, to test them for safety at a place in Milwaukie. We should hopefully hear something tomorrow. In the mean time, we bought 7 gallons of drinking water for the time being. (I wanted to get distilled water, so that if it turned out we didn't need it all, I could use it for my CPAP, but Amy says distilled water makes her ill. I don't know how that can be, but whatever, we got "drinking water" instead.)

(She's fine so far aside from diarrhea last night. She knows she's a hypochondriac and is trying not to panic.)

Amy has a theory about why Steve mysteriously can't find the plumber who was supposedly responsible for the blue water, why he was so unusually reticent to believe us, and why he was so unusually taciturn during his visit: she suspects he billed the company he works for for a plumber but did the work himself and once he saw the blue water he realized he'd fucked up. Knowing and loathing him as I do, I would not be surprised.

This was cross-posted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1200414.html
You can comment either here or there.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
capybyra
Jan. 11th, 2014 05:59 am (UTC)
Boiler chemicals or Lime solvent?
Both of those could explain a lot
kengr
Jan. 12th, 2014 01:14 am (UTC)
Amy has a theory about why Steve mysteriously can't find the plumber who was supposedly responsible for the blue water, why he was so unusually reticent to believe us, and why he was so unusually taciturn during his visit: she suspects he billed the company he works for for a plumber but did the work himself and once he saw the blue water he realized he'd fucked up. Knowing and loathing him as I do, I would not be surprised.

Oh, that's almost *certain* now that I think about it. Remember, I told you to look for a truck in the parking lot? And you didn't see one?

A real plumber would have had a truck with obvious "stuff" on it, and most likely his contact info. Since you didn't see one, that sort of rules out a real plumber.

Distilled water shouldn't make Amy ill, as the only difference is minor amounts of mineral content. But if it's been sitting around, it can "grow" stuff as it doesn't have the chlorine in it.

I'd keep any unused bottles of water around for emergencies. Use a felt pen and date the bottles (unless they already have a "use by" date on them).

Use them up by the use by date or after (at a guess) 6 months.

If you want, we can grab one of my 3 gallon water "coolers" (the things you see them have gatorade in at sports events) from my storage and you can keep it around for storing/transporting emergency water.
acelightning
Jan. 12th, 2014 09:08 am (UTC)
fayanora
Jan. 13th, 2014 02:21 am (UTC)
I admit the coincidence is weird, but I'm in Oregon, and that was/is in Virginia.
fayanora
Jan. 13th, 2014 02:23 am (UTC)
PS
"MCHM is a colorless oil with a faint mint-like[7] odor of licorice."

Whatever was in our water was blue and smelled of borax. So no similarity at all.
acelightning
Jan. 14th, 2014 08:27 am (UTC)
Re: PS
I meant it mostly as a joke, although one radio account of the problem in Virginia described the contaminated water as having a bluish color. (And I just went and smelled my box of borax, and it doesn't smell like anything in particular.)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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