• Why does my water smell like chlorine?
  • All water in the DWU potable water system is chlorinated to provide a level of disinfection required by state and federal regulatory agencies. We use minimal amounts of chlorine to accomplish the required disinfection (normally around 1.0 – 1.5 parts of chlorine per million parts water). At those levels, the smell is undetectable. When chlorine is added to groundwater, it combines with naturally occurring substances found in the water which uses a certain amount of the chlorine and leaves a minimal amount remaining as “free available” chlorine- available to attack and destroy any contaminants in the water before it reaches your tap. Strangely enough, water which smells like chlorine normally indicates a lack of the appropriate amount of “free chlorine”. This problem normally occurs within the plumbing of a home or business in which the water has not been used and therefore has sat in the lines for a long period of time. The smell of chlorine is caused by chlorine that has combined with substances in the water- usually in the form of chloramines. Thorough flushing of the lines in your home or business will normally remedy this issue.
  • Why does my water sometimes look rusty or cloudy after hydrant flushing?
  •  Whenever a fire hydrant is opened, the water flows out at a very high rate (up to 1,300 gallons per minute) resulting in increased velocity within the main. This creates a scouring action in the pipe and dislodges fine sediment particles that have accumulated in the pipe. The fine sediment mixes with the water, turning the water a cloudy or rusty brown color. This mixture is normally discharged out of the hydrant, but may be drawn into your home if you are running your water at the time of the flushing.

    While there is no health hazard associated with discolored water, it can cause nuisance problems such as laundry discoloration. Whenever possible, avoid running the tap water in your home whenever you notice flushing operations in your immediate area- this will greatly reduce the potential for the discolored water to enter your home.

    Should you notice discolored water in your home, here are some Helpful Hints to help you resolve the problem:

    -First, open cold water faucets and let the water flow until it is clear- normally, bathtubs on the lowest floor of your home are the best place to move large quantities of water.

    -If you notice discoloration in your hot water, it may be necessary to flush your water heater reservoir- make certain the cold water is running clear first!

    -Once both hot and cold water are clear, the water is ready for normal use.

    -Remember to inspect your faucet screens for trapped particles, and clean as necessary.

    -Wash a load or two of dark-colored clothes first.

  • Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?
  • A sewer, or “rotten egg” odor, from your tap water could be the result of several problems in your own home and may not be directly related to the water supply.  If you detect the odor in your kitchen faucet, it could be the result of a partially clogged drain or a dirty garbage disposal.  The easiest way to verify this is to check another faucet in the house.  If the water from the other faucet smells fine, then, more than likely, the bad odor is a result of a dirty garbage disposal or remains in your sink’s trap.

    Another common cause for a “rotten egg” odor from house tap water can be associated with Sulfur Reducing Bacteria which can thrive in your water heater.  A water heater can produce a rotten egg odor when it is initially turned on or after a period of no use. To determine if the odor is from the water heater, go to a sink closest to the water heater and fill a glass with water from that hot water faucet and a second glass from the cold water faucet and smell them.  If the sink has a single handle faucet, ensure the handle is pushed completely in the desired direction.  This will help avoid mixing the two lines feeding the faucet.  If the offending odor is detected only from the glass of water taken from the hot water faucet, the problem is most likely originating from the water heater.

    Flushing the water heater will, in most cases, solve the problem. You can flush the water heater yourself, or contact a plumber to perform the flushing. For information on how to flush yourself, see http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-drain-a-water-heater/index.html

  • What are “Sulfur Reducing Bacteria”?
  • Sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB) live in oxygen-deficient environments. They break down sulfur compounds commonly found in ground water, producing hydrogen sulfide gas in the process. Hydrogen sulfide gas is foul-smelling (like rotten eggs) and is highly corrosive. Bacterial contamination of a water supply doesn’t always mean “health hazard.” Some types of bacterial contamination are more annoying than harmful. However, they can be incredible nuisances. 

  • What if flushing my water heater does not solve the problem?
  • A water heater provides a good environment for SRB because the high temperature tends to dissipate the chlorine disinfectant in the drinking water. It also contains a “sacrificial anode” which is a magnesium rod designed to corrode within the tank thereby protecting the tank lining. SRB are nourished by electrons released from the sacrificial anode as it corrodes.

    Water heaters infested with SRB can be treated. SRB die at temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above, which is roughly equivalent to the medium setting on most home water heaters. Setting the water heater on “high” will raise the water temperature to approximately 160 degrees Fahrenheit and kill any SRBs in the tank. CAUTION!!! This should only be done if the water tank has a pressure relief valve, and everyone in the house should be warned to prevent scalding. After about eight hours, the tank can be drained and the temperature setting returned to normal. Raising the water heater temperature will temporarily solve the odor problem, but sometimes SRBs may quickly reinvade unless more permanent measures are taken.

    Removing the sacrificial anode will eliminate the problem, but it can also shorten the water heater lifespan significantly and may void the warranty. Replacing the magnesium rod with one made of zinc won’t totally eliminate SRB, but it will greatly reduce their numbers. Consult with a plumber before attempting to modify your water heater. Tank less water heaters are becoming very popular in the US and may be worth consideration as they do not store water and therefore eliminate the environment for SRB all together. 

  • Why is my water cloudy or milky?
  • Typically milky, cloudy water is the result of air in your water lines. The cloudiness is caused by millions of tiny air bubbles suspended in the water. The best way to confirm this is to fill a clear glass with water from your tap and let it sit on a flat surface for a few minutes. If you notice the water clearing as the air bubbles rise to the top, then air is the problem. Generally, flushing the water lines in your home by running the cold water taps for several minutes will resolve the problem. 

  • Why does this water taste different than what I am used to?
  • The water source for our area is groundwater from a confined artesian aquifer located about 400’ below land surface. Known as the Upper Floridan Aquifer, this water is naturally filtered for hundreds of years as it moves slowly through a porous formation of limestone. That formation acting as nature’s filter results in an extremely pristine water source for us to enjoy. The only treatment the water in our system receives is chlorination as required by our regulatory agencies. Many other water systems are required to provide additional levels of treatment (such as lime softening or carbon filtration) to achieve water quality within acceptable regulatory standards, resulting in additional tastes and odors which you will not find in our drinking water.  

  • Is the water considered to be hard or soft?
  • By American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards, the drinking water in our area is categorized as Soft; ranging from 40-110 mg/L or 2.2-6.1 grains/ gallon. 

  • How do I purify water?
  • In order to ensure a safe and adequate drinking water supply in your home following an emergency situation such as a hurricane, it is important to disinfect tap water to kill any bacteria or viruses that may have entered the water or to use an alternative source of water (bottled water). To purify the water you can use one of several methods until service can be restored:


    Boil vigorously (rolling boil) for 1 minute and let cool.

    Addition of hypochlorite bleach

    -Regular liquid bleach from the home laundry or grocery store will work well. DO NOT use a bleach that has a fragrance or scenting agent.

    -Read the label to find the percentage of chlorine available. It should be 5.25%.

    -Add 8 drops (or 1/8 teaspoon) to a gallon of water and let stand at least 30 minutes.

    -If the water has a strong chlorine smell after 30 minutes, pour back and forth between two clean jugs or containers.

    Purification tablets

    You can purchase these from a drug store or outdoor recreation supply store. Keep them with your hurricane supplies and use according to directions on the package. 

    For more information regarding emergency disinfection of drinking water, please reference available in online fact sheets produced by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Or, type this link into your browser: http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/emergencydisinfection.cfm

  • How do I store purified water?
  • -To keep drinking water safe from contamination, it should be stored in clean, non-corrosive, tightly covered food grade containers.

    -Prepare two quarts of water per day for each family member and any family pets.

    -To increase shelf life of water, group bottles in dark plastic trash bags to keep light out. Store containers in a cool, dark location.

    CAUTION: Make sure children don’t mistake bottles containing hazardous substances with bottles used for drinking water. 

  • What should I do after a precautionary boil water notice is lifted?
  • After the boil water notice is lifted, flush the water out of your distribution lines. Start with an outdoor faucet furthest from your meter and flush all outdoor faucets. Run hot water through each indoor faucet until you notice a change in water temperature. Remove the aerator before flushing kitchen and bathroom sink faucets. Run enough hot water to flush the hot water heater. If you have an automatic ice maker, empty the ice tray several times to ensure that the line to the ice maker is flushed.

    More information is available in online fact sheets produced by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Or, type this link into your browser http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/health_professionals/bwa/index.html