Common Drinking Water Issues

Water from drinking water wells can sometimes have unpleasant aesthetic qualities, which water softening or treatment systems can often improve. 

Listed below are some common drinking water issues we encounter, as well as likely causes. Our office also offers drinking water testing services for many potential contaminants. See the list of common drinking water tests and recommendations for Washtenaw County (PDF).

If you have questions or concerns about your well or drinking water, please call our Environmental Health Division office at 734-222-3800 or contact your area Sanitarian.

Common Water Issues

Color: Can be caused by decaying leaves, plants, organic matter, copper, iron, and manganese. Not typically health concerns. Aesthetically unpleasing. Water treatment systems can generally greatly improve color or staining issues.

Insects: Old, broken, or missing well caps can allow insects like earwigs to enter the well casing. Insects can bring bacteria into the well, possibly contaminating the water. Insect parts can show up in water, or be trapped in faucet screens.

Odor: Certain odors may indicate organic or non-organic contaminants that originate from municipal or industrial waste discharges or from natural sources. Diesel or gas odor indicates that water should be tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Rotten-egg odor often indicates iron bacteria in the water. Rotten-egg odor could also indicate that the water is high in hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be an issue with some wells in the southeast part of Washtenaw County.

Taste: Some substances such as certain organic salts produce a taste without an odor. Iron and manganese can alter the taste of water. Can cause bitter taste in brewed beverages like tea and coffee. Water treatment systems can generally greatly improve taste.

Grit/Sand: Can indicate that well is failing and has started to pull materials into the well.