Water Quality FAQs

My water smells of chemicals or bleach. Are there a lot of chemicals or extra chlorine in the water?

No. Chemicals such as chlorine are always kept at safe and unnoticeable levels. The chlorine is maintained in CCWA’s distribution system from 0.2 to 2.5 mg/l which is a fairly low level. Household bleach for example is 50,000 mg/l chlorine. These smells and possibly tastes can be from a number of sources:

  1. The small amount of chlorine reacting with smells in the air, in the drain or plumbing fixtures. Chlorine itself has no odor, but when it comes in contact with organic material like skin or odors, it will react and give the characteristic bleach smell. Try smelling bleach in the jug (not much odor). Then, put a drop on your skin and smell (bleach). This is caused by a chemical reaction with your skin (an organic substance). Remedy this by cleaning sinks and drains and running enough water to diminish the smells.
  2. Chemical smells can come from a garden hose that is connected to the house. If this hose has water left in it, the water can make its way back into the house by reverse pressure and make the water in the house taste and smell horrible. It can also affect tea and ice. Remedy this by keeping the hose disconnected when not in use or install a backflow device designed for hoses.
  3. Chlorine dioxide gas is used as a disinfectant at the water treatment plant. It is a good disinfectant and reduces the formation of compounds, such as trihalomethanes. When a water tap is open, small amounts of chlorine dioxide diffuse into the air and combine with existing household odors. All homes have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the ambient air produced by scented products (such as soaps, candles, air fresheners or incense), paint, carpet, furnishing or fresh flowers and many other common househould items. VOC/chlorine dioxide combination odors have been described as smelling like fuel, oil, kerosene, chemicals or cat urine. The odor will continue until the levels of VOCs decreases. The remedy is to increase ventilation by opening windows and turning on fans.

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