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Water Quality Problems

Florida Department of Health in Volusia County Environmental Health

The St. Johns River Water Management District has delegated authority to the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County to implement and administer the program for regulation of water well construction standards for all wells in Volusia County unless these wells are within Chapter 62- 524, F.A.C., delineated areas or wells having a casing diameter 6" or greater.

Below are some of the more common questions about water quality. We have provided descriptions, probable causes and suggested treatments for each question. For more information, please visit the Florida Department of Health website.

Well Water FAQs

1. Soap doesn't lather well.

Description: Greasy, grimy rings in tubs and sinks. Dingy laundry with a harsh feel and possibly white or gray streaks. Milky film or spots on dishes washed in automatic dishwasher. Scale build-up in water heater. Scale build-up in pipes and reduced water flow. Scale build-up in cooking utensils.

Probable Cause: Hard water due to calcium and magnesium compounds dissolved from rocks and minerals in the earth. The most commonly used description of hard water is: 0-3 grains per gallon= Soft 4-9 grains per gallon= Average over 10 grains per gallon= Hard.

Suggested Treatment: Install a water softener or reverse osmosis system for both hot and cold water, bypassing outside water lines. Kitchen cold water line may be bypassed if water softener is selected and sodium in the diet is a concern. Alter natively, soften water in washer, tub and basins by adding non-precipitating water conditioners. Special scale filters may be attached to the cold water supply lines to appliances.

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2. Intestinal disorders.

Description: Water may or may not have "off" taste or odor.

Probable Cause: Contamination of water source. Potential contaminants include fertilizer, pesticides, animal waste, human waste, and industrial chemicals.

Suggested Treatment: Have water tested immediately for suspected contaminants. Disinfect water supply with strong chlorine solution and install automatic chlorinator, if appropriate. Install check valves or other protection at plumbing cross connections and maintain air laps between faucets and any possible source of contamination.

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3. Reddish-brown stains in sinks, toilets, tubs, dishwashers, and dishes.

Description: Reddish-brown stains or yellowing of laundry, especially after using chlorine bleach. Water tastes metallic. Brown sediment in standing water. (Also see reddish slime.)

Probable Cause: Dissolved iron in the water that is oxidized by air to form iron oxide, which is insoluble. (Also see iron bacteria.)

Suggested Treatment: After determining type and amount of iron problem, select appropriate iron removal equipment such as chlorinator and sand filter, high capacity water softener or manganese greensand filter. Choice of treatment for iron problems can be complex, depending on the level of iron in the water and the presence of other impurities. Purchase equipment from a reliable dealer who has had training in this area of water treatment.

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4. Reddish slime on walls of toilet flush tank and reduced water flow.

Description: Slimy material suspended in clear water.

Probable Cause: Iron bacteria, which live on iron in the water and eventually harden into scale.

Suggested Treatment: Install a chlorinator to feed into the well near the pump intake and an activated carbon filter to remove excess chlorine and other objectionable tastes or odors.

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5. Corroding water pipes.

Description: Water dripping from corroded iron or galvanized pipe has a rusty color. Corroded copper or brass pipes cause blue-green stains on plumbing fixtures. Laundry may have red, reddish-brown, or blue-green stains. Water has a metallic taste.

Probable Cause: Low pH, commonly called acid water; often caused by a high concentration of carbon dioxide.

Suggested Treatment: Depending on the acidity level, use appropriate treatment such as aeration, soda ash feeder, or neutralizing filter.

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6. Rotten egg odor from both hot and cold water pipes.

Description:Copper and silver turn black in the water. Iron, steel, or copper parts of pumps, pipes, and fixtures corroded. Black stains on laundry and porcelain. Black particles in water.

Probable Cause: Hydrogen sulfide, sulfur/sulfate reducing bacteria.

Suggested Treatment: Compounds such as iron sulfide, calcium sulfide, and sodium sulfide can interfere with hydrogen sulfide removal so multiple treatments may be required. Appropriate treatments include chlorination or aeration followed by filtration through a sand filter.

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7. Rotten egg odor from hot water pipe only.

Description: None.

Probable Cause: Chemical reaction of anti-corrosion magnesium rod in electric water heater.

Suggested Treatment: Remove magnesium rod and replace with chemical solution feeder to protect water heater from corrosion or chlorinate water.

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8. Objectionable taste or odor other than hydrogen sulfide.

Description: None.

Probable Cause: Decaying organic matter, pollution from surface drainage, insufficient chlorine being used to disinfect water.

Suggested Treatment: Install activated carbon filter or automatic chlorinator followed by activated carbon filter.

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9. Turbid, cloudy or dirty water. Dingy laundry.

Description: None.

Probable Cause: Silt, sediment, small organisms or organic matter, suspended in the water.

Suggested Treatment: Install a fiber or sand filter.

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10. Black stains.

Description: On sinks, tubs, and laundry. Water may feel greasy.

Probable Cause: Manganese (often appears with iron).

Suggested Treatment: Iron removal treatment also removes manganese.

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