Complaints of strange-smelling water across Houston area after boil water notice lifted

HOUSTON – Roughly a week after the cold weather first arrived in Houston, the water service is back but some people are reporting a different smell.

“The water, when it comes out, just has a funny smell almost like metal,” Lindsey Rockoff said over the phone.

The Houston resident said she first noticed the smell a few days ago, after the boil water notice was lifted, even though she doesn’t have metal pipes at home.

Another man emailed KPRC 2 and wrote, “my water smells fishy,” while some social media posts described the smell like bleach.

“One of the first things that we have to do with that is we actually have to get inspectors out into the field to those specific locations,” said Carol Haddock, director of Houston Public Works.

She said people can report the situation to Houston 311.

“We go to the nearest fire hydrant, we go to places we can access and get samples and look at that water and make sure that everything’s ok,” she said.

Still, Haddock said the water is safe to consume.

“Every sample has come back clean and we’re continuing to sample and make sure that we don’t have any bacteria in the system itself,” she said. “None is being introduced and we don’t have any indication that there is bacteria in the system at all.”

The city said discolored or smelly water can usually be fixed by flushing the water system through a fire hydrant, followed by flushing the water from the pipes of a home or business.

People can contact Houston 311 by phone at 713-837-0311, email at, or through

As a safety note, Haddock said water employees will not come into your home. She said the department is dispatching staff to check on concerns the same day they are reported.

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