When a consumer notices an issue regarding the taste, color and/or odor of his or her water, a variety of factors can be to blame. In many cases, these water quality problems are often triggered by drinking water disinfectants. Water treatment dealers can use taste, odor and color issues to their sales and marketing advantage and to promote health in drinking water.

Several experts offer the following common causes pertaining to these observable water concerns:

  • Chlorine and chloramines
  • Byproducts – typically disinfection byproducts, or DBPs, for example trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs); and byproducts from microbial growths such as algae
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Metals/inorganic compounds
  • Hydrogen sulfide.

Consumer awareness of treatment options for water quality concerns, whether noticeable or not, is not only crucial for business profitability but also for the safety and health of the consumer. If the water appears clean, tastes fine and is odorless, end users will often assume the water is harmless.

“Many waterborne contaminants are dangerous at levels which are unobservable without detection equipment,” warns Multipure Vice President of Marketing Kenton Jones. “Lead, for example, has been linked to developmental disabilities at concentrations which are imperceptible to humans.”

Various carcinogens may also be present in drinking water supplies; however, these substances can be inconspicuous and go undetected if a water test is not preformed.

Additionally, although many DBPs may not be present in privately-monitored wells, owners and users of well systems still need to test their systems as well. Susan White, United Filters marketing staff, explains that a variety of pollutants, such as nitrates, arsenic and sulfates, can contaminate the well water and drastically impact the quality and safety of the water.

“Many well water customers are of the impression that their water is purer because it comes from a well. With the drought in various parts of the country, the water table is constantly changing; and, consequently, new contaminants may be introduced that weren’t there previously. It is important for well water consumers to get their water tested yearly to ensure they are properly treating it,” she adds.

Water treatment solutions

A variety of water quality issues results in an array of water treatment possibilities. There is not a single, straightforward solution to treat all water problems that may arise. However, for the most part, many water quality concerns are frequently and effectively treated by applying filtration systems, often infused with carbon, at the point-of-use (POU) and/or the point-of-entry (POE).

“The most common treatment option is activated carbon either used at the treatment plant to remove chemical compounds from the source water, or [when] POU or POE activated carbon filters [are] used in the home,” explains Carbon Resources LLC President Ken Schaeffer. “Activated carbon is known as the universal adsorbent and it is the best option for removal and reduction of a myriad of chemicals.”

When it comes to applying POU and POE treatment options for specific water quality issues pertaining to odor, taste and color, Susan Mathews, account manager for KX Technologies LLC, suggests POU for taste and POE for color and odor as they are more likely to affect the entire household. “Water color compounds can stain various plumbing fixtures and odor can be a nuisance throughout the house,” she educates.

One noticeably unpleasant odor problem, described often as the “rotten-egg smell,” is mostly a result of Hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Considered to be poisonous, especially in large levels/exposures, H2S should be tested and treated when present in drinking water. “Methods such as hydrogen peroxide or catalytic enhanced activated carbons can be used in [H2S] treatment,” recommends Schaeffer.

However, as mentioned, many toxins are not as easy to detect, often absent of any recognizable indicators pertaining to the smell, color or flavor of the water. Water treatment dealers must encourage consumers to test their water at least once a year; and if they have a filtration system in place, to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, especially regarding the maintenance and filter replacement schedules.

When properly tested and the right treatment solutions are applied, consumers can safely enjoy clean, clear and tasty water, free of unwanted contaminants. As a result, water treatment professionals will see more satisfied customers, improving overall profitability and productivity.