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Chemical Turns Water To Shades of Pink and Purple, But It’s Safe

August 2, 1996 GMT

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ When Ruth Alvarado saw the water in her toilet turn purple, she thought she had a kidney problem.

What she actually had was a potassium permanganate problem, and it turns out all of Corpus Christi had it, too.

The accidental release of too much of the chemical at a filtration plant Wednesday night was blamed as taps across town spewed water in shades of pink to magenta beginning early Thursday.

``The water is safe to drink,″ said Assistant Water Superintendent Ed Garana. ``There is no cause for concern.″

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Officials said they have been using the chemical and increased doses of chlorine dioxide to control the taste and smell of the water supply.

The purplish hue was most noticeable in white porcelain toilet bowls.

``I thought that I had a kidney problem,″ said Alvarado, a substitute teacher. ``It was a frightening first thing in the morning to see your toilet water take on a pinkish, purplish color.″

City officials went to unusual lengths to emphasize that nothing more was amiss with the water than its color.

Mayor Mary Rhodes even went on a television newscast to drink an eight-ounce glass of the stuff.

``It didn’t taste bad,″ she said. ``And when the city says it’s safe, I believe it.″