Substances that Cause Tap Water Taste, Odor and Appearance
Water Quality & Health Council

Part 2 of a Series of Articles on Tap Water

A drink of tap water is a complex sensory experience that reflects a wide range of factors, including:  the natural environment of the source water, including whether the source water hails from above (lake or river) or below (ground water) the Earth’s surface; water treatment processes; the household plumbing system; and the consumer’s sensitivity to taste and odor.  This week we examine some of the common substances in water and the scenarios that may impart a color, taste or odor to tap water.

What’s that Smell?

To play the water odor detective, first determine whether the odor occurs in water from all of the household faucets, or just some of them.  According to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, if the odor is associated only with specific faucets, the cause is somewhere in the fixtures or pipes supplying those … READ MORE >>


Tap Water Taste, Odor and Appearance: Why They Matter
Water Quality and Health Council

Part 1 of a Series of Articles on Tap Water

We instinctively use our senses to evaluate tap water.  The best rated water looks crystal-clear, and tastes and smells refreshing.  Appearance, taste and odor are not necessarily indicative of actual water quality, however, because water contaminants may be clear, tasteless and odorless.  Case in point:  the small Canadian city of Chilliwack, British Columbia.

In 2013, the mayor, city council and many of Chilliwack’s residents expressed outrage when the local health authority recommended adding chlorine to the city’s award-winning drinking water.  The recommendation was prompted when E. coli bacteria was detected during routine water sampling.  At a dramatic public event, a local medical health officer declared he was willing to take a big sip of Chilliwack tap water, but he would never let his young daughter drink it.  Chilliwack’s tap water, the city’s pride and joy, was under attack.  The controversy … READ MORE >>


Water, Sanitation and the Millennium Development Goals: A Report Card on Global Progress
Joan B. Rose, PhD

Graphic from UN Millennium Development Goals and Beyond 2015 website 

In 2000, the United Nations adopted a set of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to improve the lives of the poorest people on Earth.  As the 15-year MDG timeline runs out, a final report on this ambitious program reflects both mixed success and overall optimism.  Given the importance of safe drinking water and sanitation to improving the human condition, we assessed two crucial MDG targets under MDG #7 (Ensure Environmental Sustainability) in the following “report card”.

Drinking Water:  Halve the proportion of the population without improved drinking water between 1990 and 2015

The great news is that this target was met five years early, in 2010!  The UN reports 91 percent of the global population now uses an “improved drinking water source” compared to 76 percent in 1990.  Of the 2.6 billion people who have gained access to improved … READ MORE >>


Add Water for a Fun 4th of July
Ralph Morris, MD, MPH

American Flags

A patriotic parade in the community, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, time on a lake or a dip in the pool and awesome fireworks: Does that capture some of your plans for the 4th of July? To help keep the fun in your hot weather holiday, here are some quick tips for staying hydrated and making sure that if you are swimming, you are enjoying a Healthy Pool.

Stay Hydrated

  • Increase your fluid (we recommend water) intake above recommended levels during hot weather
  • Drink before you are thirsty (if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated) and avoid alcoholic beverages (these can cause dehydration from increased urine output)
  • Know the warning signs of dehydration (body temperature over 102 degrees Fahrenheit or severe cramps in the abdomen, arms or legs; dark yellow or odorous urine; dry or sticky mouth; vomiting, diarrhea or sweating;

Avoiding Norovirus at the Lake
Water Quality and Health Council

Norovirus, the notorious “stomach bug,” can spread like wildfire  through homes, schools, healthcare facilities and cruise ships.  According to a recent report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus also can be spread among swimmers in natural water bodies. In July, 2014, 70 people became ill with norovirus after swimming in Oregon’s Blue Lake, on the outskirts of Portland.  More than half of these were children between four and ten years old.  A CDC investigation found those who swam in the lake over the course of one weekend were more than twice as likely to develop vomiting or diarrhea as those who visited the lake but did not go in the water.  The outbreak was the subject of public communication during CDC’s 2015 Healthy and Safe Swimming Week1.

Anatomy of an Aqueous Outbreak

Last summer’s norovirus outbreak in Oregon probably started after a … READ MORE >>


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