Unlocking the Mystery of Purple Pipes

Across the United States, utility companies in large urban areas are bringing recycled water directly to consumers’ homes and commercial sites through recently introduced “Purple Pipes”.

Color-coded pipes are used by utility companies to reduce the chances of accidental cross-connections within plumbing and piping infrastructures. Colors often have various symbolic meanings: blue pipes indicate potable water, green signifies sewers, and yellow pipes are for potentially flammable hazards such as natural gas, oil or petroleum. Other color categories serve a myriad of additional utilities: orange pipes represent telecommunications, red is for power lines and white pipes signifying the markings where excavations and new pipe routes will go. When recycled water came along, the industry needed a color to differentiate it from the other pipes already on the property.

Keith Lewingerm, an engineer suffering from extreme color-blindness, picked out the lavender-painted pipe, now known as ‘Irvine Purple’ — he thought that if he could identify it, so could others, and the rest is history.

Water is a precious resource. As water scarcity continues to strike around the country, water agencies are moving toward reclaimed water for non-drinking purposes as a sustainable long term solution. Using recycled water for applications such as landscape irrigation and toilet flushing, can save thousands of gallons of water a year and help us to conserve valuable potable resources.

The Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility is an example of a treatment plant that restores gray water from sinks, washing machines, showers and hoses to a pristine condition. The reclaimed water is subject to a series of scientifically-proven cleansing processes to ensure its quality and safe use, holding the same or even higher standards than drinking water.


Despite its drought-resistant benefits, using recycled water is not without its challenges. Due to the high concentrations of chemicals, reclaimed water can severely damage plumbing systems with a high zinc content or yellow brass and organic rubber, potentially leading to increased maintenance requirements. As a result, the new Sloan’s new reclaimed water flushometer, the Sloan® Royal®, is a specifically designed solution that withstands reclaimed water harsh conditions with purple interior components designed to help maintenance personnel know that it is designed for reclaimed water.

CLICK HERE  to find out where to find out more about the Sloan Royal and how to take advantage of the Purple Pipes program in your city!