The Watchdog

Brown water filter has Piper homeowner seeing red

The problem

The Watchdog loves to lap up clean, clear water. At least before cocktail hour.

Carl Payton of the Piper area in Kansas City, Kan., does too. He told The Dog he had a water purification system installed in his house a few weeks back. It has two filters just inside the house.

The bigger of the two starts out white, so it shows its accumulated gunk more easily than its darker counterpart. The installer told Payton the filters should do their jobs for three to six months before needing replacement.

About a week after installation, Payton noticed a drop in water pressure while taking a shower. He checked the filters and saw the bigger one was “dirt brown.”

He called the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities. A worker came the next day, said he had no record of recent work in the immediate area that might have affected water quality, checked the water at a faucet in Payton’s house and said it looked clean.

Payton called the BPU again.

“All I was asking them for was to adjust my bill accordingly, based on the cost to replace the filters,” he said.

Payton spent about $30 for the bigger filter and $5 for the smaller one.

“(The BPU employee) said, ‘We don’t do that. It’s inside your house. It’s your problem,’” Payton said. “The bigger issue is they’re not notifying people that they’re working on lines in your area and you might want to at least flush your lines by running your faucets.”

The answer

The BPU did replace a fire hydrant in the area about three weeks ago but said Payton’s water wasn’t turned off for that.

“We sent out another troubleshooter and spoke to a neighbor on his street and they had no brown water,” said BPU spokesman David Mehlhaff.

“We think it’s an internal plumbing issue, We’ve had no other calls from that subdivision about brown water. If we’d had a lot of brown water — believe me –— we would have gotten a lot of calls about it.”

The Dog’s advice: When in doubt, drink stout. But don’t drive afterward.

Do you have a problem or a question about a public issue? Write to the Watchdog, The Kansas City Star, Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send email to Include your name, phone number and city of residence.