BAD ODORS AND TASTE IN NEW ENGLAND WATER
FISHY, MUSTY SMELL & TASTE
If you’re noticing this bad odor in your water in the summertime, it is likely being caused by algae blooms. Lakes and reservoirs often see an increase in algae blooming on the surface of the water when there is plenty of warmth and direct sunlight. Although water treatment facilities remove the algae from the water, the particles that cause the fishy bad odor can sometimes be detected by people who are sensitive to musty or mildew like smells. The presence of these particles do not pose any direct threat to your health, but if you are on a public water supply, you may want to contact the water division of your town and get an explanation from them. If you are on a private well and you wish to remove this annoying issue, contact us for an assessment.
Other potential causes of a fishy or musty bad odor coming from your tap water is the presence of some other specific naturally occurring, organic material found in your water source. Barium is a metal that exists in mineral ores and can seep into wells and pipes causing a foul smell in your drinking water. The EPA regulates the amount of Barium in public water to keep it below the recommended level. Cadmium is another metal that finds its way into pipes through industrial waste or fertilizer contamination.
Another cause of this fishy bad smell may be the combination of chlorine and ammonia which together create a compound called Chloramine. This is often used to disinfect public water sources (as a substitute for chlorine) and can sometimes produce an unpleasant aroma in your water. Surface water sources, such as reservoirs contain organic matter that, when combined with chlorine at the water treatment plant, can cause by-product compounds called Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids. These have proven to be a health threat, and as such, many towns have switched to Chloramine to avoid this. For more on Chloramine see the link at: EPA Chloramine.
METALLIC TASTE AND SMELL
The minerals Iron and Manganese are very common in the New England region. The EPA actionable levels are .3 parts per million for Iron and .05 parts per million for Manganese. At these levels and higher, there is a good chance you may get a metallic taste in your mouth from drinking the water and potentially at lower levels. Also, water with a low pH is corrosive and can leach metals from your plumbing distribution system. This may also create a metallic taste as well.
GASOLINE OR PETROCHEMICAL TYPE SMELL
If you notice a bad odor or taste in your water which is like diesel or petrol, there’s a quick check you can do to work out where it may be coming from. Pour a glass or water from the tap you’ve noticed the smell or taste from. Take this into another room if possible, or as far away from the tap itself. If the smell or taste in the glass of water disappears, this could mean there is a problem with the drain near the tap as it may not be connected properly. If the bad odor is still there it could be because there are petrochemicals around the area of your water pipes. You should check for any fuel leaks on your driveway or on the road near your property. It is also possible that leakage from a gasoline storage tank in the area is causing this, therefore you may want to contact your town to find out if they are aware of any situations that may have affected the well where you live. This leakage could have happened a long time ago and has begun finding its way into the aquifer supplying your well.
Depending on the water test and analysis, this water quality issue can be corrected with several technologies, including carbon filtration, oxidation and ozone.
CHLORINE SMELL & TASTE
Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to drinking water to disinfect it and kill germs. It is the most common method employed by cities and towns used for this purpose. While the chemical could be harmful in high doses, when it is properly added to water it mixes in resulting in low levels that kill germs but are still safe to drink. The dosing levels of chlorine may vary during the course of the year. During the summer months when the water heats up, the potential for increased bacterial activity typically is countered with higher doses of chlorine. Also, depending on where your home is in the distribution system, you may have a higher level of chlorine in your water if you live closer to the water treatment plant and less if you are farther downstream.
The smell and taste given off by highly chlorinated water can be very off putting. Who hasn’t lifted a water glass in a restaurant to a heavy whiff of chlorine? Chlorine is also not the best thing for your skin and hair as it can dry out both. A carbon filter or carbon filtration system is very effective at removing this annoying water quality issue.
ROTTEN EGG SMELL
The most common cause of rotten egg smell in water in New England is Hydrogen Sulfide. It can create an extremely bad odor and taste that is difficult to tolerate. For a more complete coverage of this annoying water quality issue, please go to the link at Rotten egg smell link
OTHER SMELLS & TASTES
While there are many other potential types of bad odors and tastes that you may encounter in your drinking water. The previous sections on this page cover the more common ones. Setting up an appointment with one of our water treatment professionals will enable us to do a water test and analysis to develop an action plan that will resolve the issues you are having.