Why Your Tap Water Stinks

Smelly water probably isn’t a plumbing problem.

Smelly water probably isn’t a plumbing problem.

Last month we offered a blog on reasons plumbing might have an odor. But, what if the odor is in the water?

As the summer winds down in a slow, leisurely spiral, Valley residents may notice a whiff of odor in their tap water. While our water is safe to drink, when it comes out of the tap, it may bear the faint scent of chlorine, or even algae.

Why it smells

As our water starts from the runoff of snow out of Idaho and Colorado, it has to travel long distances and though several courses. By the time it gets to our Valley canals, it may have picked up some pathogens which, in the heat, can present itself as algae in the canals. The odor adheres to the water, even following a trip through the City of Phoenix filtration system.

As a result, by the time it gets to your tap, even though it’s potable, a bit of an odor may still cling to it.

The City of Phoenix water service web page likens the odor to ‘like a bouquet of roses,' which will leave a scent in the room even when the flowers have been removed. While algae don’t smell the same as a bouquet of roses, we certainly appreciate the analogy as a means of deflecting a negative public perception of the stinky water.

What can I do?


The city recommends adding a little lemon to your drinking water, or pouring it into a container to allow it to ‘breathe’ for about a half an hour, like a fine wine. These methods are perfectly acceptable, and we will leave it to our readers to try them or not as they choose.

Another option is to use a filter, such as a reverse osmosis filter for your sink tap, hidden beneath the sink. You can try a filtered pitcher for the refrigerator, or even a whole-house system. The one caveat is that the cartridges on any filtration system need to be changed according to the unit’s directions.

It’s safe

In spite of the odor at certain times of the year, the people at water services work hard to provide safe drinking water for their customers. They have meticulous standards and test for a considerable number of unsafe materials on a frequent basis. Still, a little common sense is in order. If the water from the tap has particulates, or if your water is shut off for a line repair, you may want to avoid drinking it for a bit. Also, if your hot water emerges with an orange tint, give us a call. Your water heater may be failing!