It’s not a trick of the light – the water flowing from Kansas City taps is faintly pink.
The culprit? Too much sodium permanganate, a chemical added during the water treatment process.
“When the Missouri River has what we call a high color content, when there are a lot of silts and clays in the river, there may be some materials that some people find unappealing,” Mike Klender, plant manager, says. “Part of our treatment process is to use sodium permanganate to combat those taste issues.”
But overnight Friday, too much sodium permanganate was added to the raw water treatment system, colorizing Kansas City’s drinking water a pinkish hue.
“It’s unfortunate, especially going into the holidays. If this were around breast cancer awareness, this would be beautiful, or around Easter,” Klender jokes.
But in all seriousness?
“This is not something that we look to have happen.”
It’ll be a few days before the sodium permanganate works its way out of the system. People who live near the downtown airport, which is just south of the water treatment plant, will begin seeing pink water immediately. It’ll take two or three days to reach the Northland, and four or five to reach South Kansas City, Grandview and Belton.
The pink water is safe to drink.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.