Why does my water taste or smell different?

There are a few common reasons water may have a different taste or odor.


  • Arvada water uses free chlorine as a disinfectant to kill any pathogens that could be found in drinking water. The EPA requires a minimum chlorine residual of 0.2 mg/L throughout the entire drinking water system. We try to maintain around 1.0 mg/L of free chlorine throughout the system.
  • The odor of chlorine may be stronger during the winter when total water usage decreases. 
  • To improve the smell, let your tap run for at least a minute before using the water. This will flush the older water out and bring in fresh, cooler water from the water main in the street. Another suggestion is to keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator, allowing the chlorine taste to dissipate. If you use a point-of-use or pitcher filter to remove chlorine, please maintain it according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

Rotten egg or sulfur

  • These types of smells are usually caused by organic matter breaking down in your waste drains, typically from hair build-up or food waste. Clean your drains regularly with enzyme-based drain cleaners, or by using mechanical methods like a drain snake.
  • Another cause of egg or sulfur smells is a dry p-trap, especially in areas like a floor drain near your laundry or water heater. Simply add a few cups of water to the drain as-needed to refill the p-trap(see image below).

p-trap portion of plumbing system

Fishy or earthy

  • Fishy, earthy, or musky smells are often caused by certain types of algae, particularly in late summer and fall when the days are hot and dry. 
  • A variety of treatment methods help prevent and reduce algae from growing in our reservoir and mitigate it at our treatment facilities.
  • Sometimes algae can still enter our treatment facilities. Most of the byproducts of these algae are not harmful, just a nuisance. The problem will resolve on its own once they die off.

Show All Answers

1. Why does my water taste or smell different?
2. Does Arvada add fluoride to the water?
3. How hard is Arvada's water?
4. Why is my water discolored or have floating particles in it?
5. What about PFAS?
6. What about water supply and conservation?