Taste and Odor

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How does the water taste?

A lot of the answer to this question depends on where the water comes from. San Jose Water Company receives approximately 1/2 of its water from state or federal water projects through the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Downtown San Jose receives most of its water from SJWC’s deep wells. Most of the year, Los Gatos and Saratoga receive local mountain surface water. Most customers that call SJWC about taste are calling about a chlorine taste or odor. Water disinfection is required by USEPA and California Department of Public Health guidelines. We target the amount of chlorine to the minimum required for effective disinfection. If the chlorine taste is objectionable on certain days, please call Customer Service at (408) 279-7900.

Is there anything I can do to eliminate the chlorine taste in my water?

Yes. Place a pitcher of water in your refrigerator for cool, fresh water any time. Chlorine will dissipate with time and the water will taste fresher. Reverse osmosis and activated carbon filters are also effective in removing chlorine from water, but choose a reputable vendor and be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing and maintaining such treatment devices.

What about an "earthy" or "musty" taste and odor in the water?

Algae growth in lakes and reservoirs can occur during the warm weather months and may occasionally cause your water to taste and smell earthy or musty. When the algae (a microscopic plant) grows, it gives off an odd but harmless flavor or odor.

While we can't prevent the warm weather, much is being done to prevent the taste and odor problem from occurring. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, which operates the local reservoirs, is monitoring them for the control of algae. In addition, the District carefully processes all drinking water at its modern water treatment plants and has a specially trained Taste Panel which samples the water to more clearly identify potential problems and provide early intervention. Additional information about the District's water supply can be viewed here.

Phew! My hot water smells like rotten eggs!

"Rotten egg" smells may be caused by a problem in your hot water heater. Magnesium anodes used in hot water tanks to prevent corrosion sometimes generate bad smelling gasses. The odor usually occurs early in the morning and only with your hot water. This smelly problem may be easily fixed by replacing the magnesium anode with one made from an aluminum alloy. Before replacing the anode, be sure the odor is coming from the hot water and not from the sink drain or garbage disposal. If you have any questions about repairs, contact a plumbing professional.