Two months ago, Victoria Rabin said she noticed what she described as urine-colored water in her Plymouth home's toilets. Then the discolored water surfaced in the tub as she gave her two young kids baths, and it ran in her sinks.
Now she and other Plymouth residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the distasteful appearance of the west metro suburb's water.
"We've never had this problem," she said. "They tell me my water is safe, but I don't know."
City leaders repeated their message Monday that the water is safe, despite being discolored from higher iron levels resulting from routine hydrant flushing and some water not being completely filtered for iron during summer's high water use.
The state Department of Health added Monday that the city's water meets or exceeds all regulatory standards.
"It is dissipating," Plymouth City Manager Dave Callister said Monday. "It's not a public health hazard."
Nevertheless, given the crisis with contaminated water in Flint, Mich., some Plymouth residents are skeptical of the city's assurances and remain concerned about the quality of the water, which they often describe as brown or orange-colored.
City officials sent a notice to about 1,200 residents saying that the water is safe and tested every week by a state-certified lab in 20 different locations. They said residents should run water until it clears.
But that hasn't eased concerns for some people like Rabin, who said misinformation has spurred mistrust in the community.
"There's no consistent response and there's been no fix," she said.
Barb Halbakken Fischburg said she's had discolored water intermittently for the past month but didn't get the city's recent notice. She said she was told by the city that the discolored water was due to a valve issue at a water plant, not hydrant flushing.
"I don't buy that; it doesn't feel like the city has been upfront," Halbakken Fischburg said. "What's the real issue?"
Callister said he's not sure where the misinformation came from. He said the water is discolored due to routine maintenance of the city's 6,000-plus fire hydrants, which causes some iron to loosen in pipes.
Higher water use in the summer also means that some water may not be completely filtered for iron, but Callister said the city is working to alter its operations to ensure that iron is filtered out.
"It takes a while to get out of the system," he said.
Callister added that he doesn't know how many residents in the city of 74,000 have had discolored water. He said the city was first contacted by residents about water concerns July 26, with 33 calls to the city coming during the first week of August. He said reports dropped to seven calls last week and none this weekend.
All public water is required to be tested regularly, with results sent to the state; if state inspectors spot any issues, such as iron levels being too high, the city would be notified, said Health Department spokesman Doug Schultz.
He added that it's not unusual for water to be discolored in the summer. The state was following up with the city Tuesday.
Matt Simcik, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, said high iron levels could be an issue for small children, but that they would have to drink a lot of water to be affected. Adults shouldn't be affected at all, he said.
"You can't basically drink enough water to make it an issue," he said. "It's not a health issue, it's a taste issue."
Simcik said Plymouth shouldn't be likened to Flint because Plymouth doesn't have lead service connection. "You don't have that problem here," he said. "We have some of the best water in the world in Minnesota."
But residents like Rabin say it's the mistrust in the community that leaves them concerned every time they open the tap.
"I don't feel like anyone with the city is on the same page," she said. "We're the ones drinking it, bathing in it, brushing our teeth. It's disgusting."