MATTERS OF TASTE: In cities, tap water passes through several stages before reaching a glass. It must be gathered from surface or ground sources, transported to and treated at a water treatment plant, transported throughout the city, all before finally entering a home. Because different houses have different pipes (lead, copper, brass, PVC), there can be variation in taste and odor at different homes, according to Andrea Dietrich's research. She found that the type of pipe influences the compounds released into the water and at what concentrations, which alters the sensory experience of the water. These effects can fade with time, and do not necessarily indicate that the water is dangerous to drink.
SECONDARY STANDARDS: Even if your tap water meets the EPA's basic requirement for safe drinking water, some people still object to the taste, smell or appearance of their water. These are aesthetic concerns, however, and therefore fall under the EPA's voluntary secondary standards. Some tap water is drinkable, but may be temporarily clouded because of air bubbles, or have a chlorine taste. A bleachy taste can be improved by letting the water stand exposed to the air for a while.
The American Waterworks Association, the Materials Research Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, AVS, the Science and Technology Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
This report has also been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.