Aesthetic Quality


The most commonly reported water complaint is a "rotten egg" smell. The smell is produced from anaerobic activities of certain harmless microorganisms in the water. The result of this activity is the production of hydrogen sulfide gas. Hot water heaters provide an ideal environment for this activity. The process is usually disrupted by water flushing and chlorine disinfection. If the odor persists in the hot water heater, changing the sacrificial anode from a magnesium anode to one which contains zinc may be the solution.


Stains are a result of naturally occurring mineral precipitation or bacterial growth on surfaces. The most common stains in New Kent County are from calcium, lime and manganese and are typically light colored, crusty precipitate at the edge of sitting water. Iron staining (reddish-brown) is not common in New Kent County. Other stains may occur in water which sits exposed to air (toilet bowls, pet water dishes, etc), and are typically the result of airborne bacteria which has colonized on a damp surface. Health concerns are not associated with the majority of these water stains, and there are many common household cleaners which will adequately remove the stains.

Milky or Cloudy Water

Water that appears milky or cloudy when drawn into a glass is most likely the result of tiny air bubbles trapped in the water. This most often occurs in the winter months. When cold water enters the plumbing of a warm building, dissolved oxygen is released in the form of air bubbles. Trapped in the pipes, the bubbles cannot escape to the atmosphere until the water is discharged from the faucet. If the milky or cloudy water is drawn into a glass and allowed to sit a few minutes, the air bubbles should rise to the top and dissipate. There are no health concerns associated with air bubbles in the water. If a "rotten egg" odor is associated with the air bubbles, refer to the recommendations for hydrogen sulfide, in "Odors" above.