FAQ Water Problems

Solutions For Drinking Water Problems


Problems / Symptoms

Bitter,  medicinal taste, scaly deposits, laxative effects, may result in rotten egg odour.

Causes

Sulphate dissolved from bedrock or caused by nearby coal mining.

Sulphate levels above the SMCL of 250 mg/L will cause these symptoms.

Solutions

Anion exchange (chloride concentration may complicate treatment), reverse osmosis for small quantities of drinking water.

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Problems / Symptoms

Black specks or black stains, metallic tasting water.

Standing water (tub or toilet tank) may appear gray or black.

Causes

Manganese dissolved from bedrock or from nearby disturbance (mining, etc.).

Manganese above the SMCL of 0.05 mg/L will cause these symptoms.

Solutions

Water softener (low concentrations of manganese if recommended by manufacturer), oxidizing filter for higher concentrations (pH adjustment of water may be necessary to optimize removal).

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(pH adjustment of water may be necessary to optimise removal)

Problems / Symptoms

Blue-green stains in sinks & tubs, metallic tasting water, pinhole leaks in pipes, corroded fixtures.

Causes

Corrosive water generally caused by low pH and low total dissolved solids( low alkalinity)—can be natural or related to mining activity.

Stains are caused by copper (and possibly lead) leached from plumbing. Water with a negative LSI (Langelier Saturation Index) will cause these symptoms. Water with a pH of less than 7 and alkalinity  lower than 150 mg/L is likely to cause corrosion .

Solutions

Acid neutralizing filter, soda-ash injection or replace metal plumbing with National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved plastic components.

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Problems / Symptoms

Grayish white film in sinks, tubs, dishes, reduced suds in laundry, frequent failure of water heater elements, scale in teapots.

Causes

Hardness due to calcium and magnesium dissolved from bedrock.

There is no drinking standard but a hardness level above about 120 mg/L¹ or 7 grains per gallon is most likely to cause these symptoms.

Solutions

Ion exchange water softener (exchanges calcium and magnesium for sodium or potassium).

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Problems / Symptoms

Gurgling or bubbling noise in well, spurting faucets, white gas bubbles in water.

Causes

Dissolved gases in water (methane, ethane, carbon dioxide) from natural sources or from mining/gas drilling.

There are no standards for these gases. Methane concentrations above 28 mg/L are most likely to cause these symptoms.

Solutions

Continue routine testing if concentrations is below 7 mg/L. Install vented well cap above about 7 mg/L and aeration system for higher concentrations (above about 28 mg/L).

Problems / Symptoms

Oily film floating on water

Causes

Variety of substances including fuels, motor oil, lubricating oil, cooking oil, animal-derived fats and decomposition of natural organic matter.

There are various water tests including Oil and Grease, and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH).

Solutions

Whole house series-activated carbon filtration. Ongoing testing may be necessary to determine frequency of replacing carbon in the filter.

Ion exchange organics specific

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Problems / Symptoms

Orange or opaque gelatinous film or strands coating toilet, and sinks, musty odor.

Oily film on water surface

Causes

Iron bacteria. There is no drinking water standard for iron bacteria in water but any presence of these bacteria can cause these symptoms.

Solutions

Shock chlorination of well, continuous down-well chlorination using pellet droppers in severe cases.

Follow-up with multi-level media unit. Carbon filtration may be needed to reduce chlorine.

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Problems / Symptoms

Persistent gastrointestinal illnesses, odor may or may not be present.

Causes

Coliform bacteria, fecal bacteria, E. coli bacteria from runoff, septic systems, animals, poor well or spring construction.

All of the bacteria have a MCL³ of less than 1 colony per 100 mL so any detectable level of these bacteria can cause these symptoms.

Solutions

Shock chlorination of well. Ultraviolet light, chlorination or ozonation system for persistent occurrence.

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Problems / Symptoms

Pink slime on fixtures, toilet waterline, or sink/shower surface.

Causes

Airborne bacteria (Serratia marcescens) growing on surfaces that are regularly moistened.

Solutions

Not a water problem. Clean and dry surfaces frequently, use chlorinated cleaner.

Problems / Symptoms

Rotten egg odour in cold and hot water, black greasy stains.

Causes

Hydrogen sulphide, sulphides, sulphate reducing bacteria in groundwater.

There is no standard but any amount can cause these symptoms.

NOTE: odour at one sink may be caused by bacteria in drain rather than water (disinfect drain to remove odour).

Solutions

Shock chlorination of well (in some cases), oxidizing filter, continuous chlorination and filtration.

Activated carbon filtration may be used for less severe cases.

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