Common Taste and Odor Problems

What the water looks like
Brown-red water stains and discolored clothing
Iron; groundwater
Manganese greensand filter; chlorination; filtration; sequestering agent
Yellow water
Tannin (humic acid); surface water
Anion exchange; chlorination
Black-stained fixtures and laundry
Manganese; groundwater
Manganese greensand filter
Blackening and pitting of Stainless Steel sinks
Chloride; surface and groundwater
Reverse osmosis; ion exchange
White deposits in pipe, water heater, soap scum
Hard water; surface and groundwater
Water softening
Milky water
Particles, air; surface and groundwater
Flush Lines; Install air release valves at high points in distribution system; clean hot water heaters; service filters
Fine sand, grit; groundwater
Sand trap; run well pumps at lower gpm
Dirt, clay, silt, organic matter; surface water
New well screen; sand trap; chlorination; enhanced coagulation/filtration; run jar tests
Blue-green stains on sinks and porcelain fixtures
Brass, copper; surface and groundwater
Stabilize water; pH adjustments
What the water smells like
Musty, earthy
Organic matter (leaves and algae) surface water
Copper sulfate treatment of surface water; activated carbon; multilevel intake (seek other source)
Chlorine; surface and groundwater
Activated Carbon; correct chlorine feed; dechlorinate
Detergent (foamy water)
Wastewater discharge into water supply; surface water
Eliminate source; chlorination
Rotten egg
Chlorination; manganese greensand filter; aeration
What the water tastes like
Iron, manganese; groundwater
Chlorination; aeration softening sequestering agent
Salty (brackish)
Sodium chloride, sulfate, inorganic salts; groundwater
Reverse osmosis; ion exchange

Adopted from the EHMI Water "Sense" Wheelâ„¢, Environmental Hazards Management Institute