Black water, brown water, yellow water.

In the First Nations community of Potlotek, commonly known as Chapel Island, the colour of the water changes seemingly with the seasons.

On Friday, a break erupted in the Cape Breton community's water main.

The water from the taps began running black because of metal flakes in the aging pipe.

The break was caused by the vibrations of heavy machinery upgrading the highway that runs through the village.

It's only the latest in a series of water-related problems in Pototek.

This winter, an ice dam developed in the pipe from the water tank, cutting off all water to homes and businesses when the temperature fell below 0 C.

In 2014, the water pump burned out, leaving the community without water for three days.

Boil water orders are common and residents complain that depending on the time of year the water can be yellow or even brown. 

Potlotek's CEO, Lindsay Marshall, explained that it's the result of high levels of naturally-occurring iron reacting to chlorine used to treat the water. 

Marshall said the water is safe to drink, but conceded few people want to.

Whole system has to be fixed

Potlotek Chief Wilbert Marshall said the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is supplying bottled water for drinking and cooking.

The chief said he thinks the water system is simply inadequate for the size of the community.

"I would say we outgrew it," he said. "We didn't expect the community to grow so much, especially during the summer, when we have an influx of people during the St. Anne's Mission."

The chief said the end of the water woes could be in sight.

"We've been talking to INAC. We've been talking to the federal government and they gave us money to fix it," he said. "They're there now. It's just a temporary fix right now, but the main fix is three to five years down the road.

"We have to do it the right way because the whole system has to be fixed right from the tower to the treatment plant to the pipes."