Tap Water Taste or Odor

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5. I am noticing a taste or odor in my tap water.

Taste and odor can be affected by many things. The most common causes are:

Chlorine. Ann Arbor’s Water Treatment Plant uses ozone as the primary disinfectant and chloramines as a secondary disinfectant. These disinfectants are used as an alternative to chlorine treatment because they have less by-products than chlorine. In addition, chloramines have less odor than chlorine, and ozone is odorless.  Ozone is also used to reduce odors commonly detected in tap water.  However, many of the surrounding communities, including Pittsfield Township and the City of Ypsilanti, use chlorine to disinfect their water. As such, you may detect a chlorine smell when dining out or visiting friends in these communities.

What can I do? Leave a glass or pitcher of water sitting uncovered in your refrigerator or on your counter. The chlorine will dissipate in just a couple of hours.  

Algae.  Algae can make your water taste musty, earthy, or grassy. The algae that produce these smells are found in Huron River, the city’s primary’s drinking water source. These algae tend to flourish in late summer.  The city treats its water with ozone, which is a disinfectant that also is one of the most effective treatment methods for taste and odor. 

What can I do? A point of use filter on your faucet or water pitcher may alleviate this problem.

Metal. Metallic taste can come from dissolved copper or iron in pipes.

What can I do? Check your plumbing for corroding pipes and replace them.

Bad-tasting ice cubes. The taste may come from the ice cube trays or packaged food in your freezer. The odors from these items can be absorbed by the ice cubes.  While unpleasant, these odors are not harmful.

What can I do?  You may try defrosting and cleaning out your freezer and ice cube trays. Most sources of taste and odor problems in drinking water, including those common causes above, should not make you sick or affect the safety of your drinking water.  However, if you notice a sudden change in the taste or odor of your water, you should report it to the city at 734. 994.2840 as a precaution.   

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