Water Quality - Frequently Asked Questions
My tap water sometimes has a funny taste and smell. What's wrong with it? At times, during the summer months of July through October, water can have an unusual taste, odor or appearance. Aesthetic characteristics generally do not pose a public health threat.
Chlorine or chemical tastes or odors are usually caused by the addition of chlorine to the water or the interaction of chlorine with organic matter. Chlorine is added to disinfect our water and is required by regulations.
Moldy, musty, earthy tastes or odors are commonly caused by seasonal occurrences when organic matter such as plants or algae are more prevalent in lakes, reservoirs, and the canals that deliver the water to water treatment facilities. These things are removed as the water is treated but harmless residual odors may remain in the water.
What I can do to avoid taste and odor in my tap water? Although harmless, it can affect the taste and smell of your drinking water even at very low concentrations. The best way to reduce taste and odor is to run the faucet for several minutes, put some water in a clean glass container, and refrigerate it before drinking.
Is my tap water safe to drink? Yes. We test our drinking water continuously to assure quality. We meet or exceed health based standards for tap water quality.
Does the town fluoridate its drinking water? Yes. We add fluoride to bring the tap water concentration to about 0.7 mg/L. This is considered the optimum level of fluoridation by the American Dental Association (ADA). In November 2000, Gilbert voters approved Proposition 413, a referendum ordered by petition of the people relating to the installation of fluoridation equipment at the water treatment plant.
Is fluoride in my drinking water safe? Yes. When added or naturally present in the correct amounts, fluoride in drinking water has greatly improved the dental health of consumers and the treated water is safe to drink.
What is water hardness? Water hardness represents total concentration of calcium and magnesium ions, reported as calcium carbonate. Hardness can sometimes interfere with soaps and can leave a “bathtub ring” or deposits on fixtures.
What are the health effects associated with hard water? Hard water is not known to cause any adverse health effect.
What is the conversion factor for mg/L of hardness to grains per gallon of hardness? One grain per gallon of hardness is equivalent to 17.1 mg/L (calcium carbonate equivalent).
How to set your water softener correctly? If you decide to purchase a water softener, you need to set it according to the hardness of the tap water. Average hardness for the town water is between 8-10 grains per gallon and setting your softener between 10-12 grains will work. Also, iron is below detection level.
What are total coliform bacteria? Total coliforms are a group of closely related bacteria that are (with few exceptions) not harmful to humans. They are natural and common inhabitants of the soil and ambient waters (e.g., lakes, rivers, and streams), as well as the gastrointestinal tracts of animals.
What is E. coli? Where does it come from? How can water be treated to protect against E. coli?E. coli is short for Escherichia coli.E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. During rainfalls, snow melts, or other types of precipitation, E. coli may be washed into creeks, rivers, streams, lakes, or groundwater. Gilbert’s water is treated with chlorine to kill or inactivate E. Coli and other harmful bacteria and microorganisms.
How often do you test tap water for total/fecal coliform? We monitor our disinfection process on a continuous basis. We also collect 150 samples per month from representative locations within our distribution system and test them for coliform bacteria.
Why water is tested for total/fecal coliform only? EPA considers total/fecal coliform as a useful indicators for the pathogens. Presence or absence of total coliforms determine the adequacy of water treatment and integrity of the distribution system. Also, we continuously monitor the disinfection process to demonstrate compliance with inactivation of viruses and Giardia – a protozoan microorganism.
What can cause the tap water to be cloudy or milky? Cloudy water commonly is caused by air in the water. If the cloudiness does not dissipate when the water is allowed to stand, the cloudiness may be due to some other cause. To help determine the cause(s) of cloudiness of your drinking water, please notify the Water Department at 480-266-6336 or 480-266-6911.
What can cause tap water to taste like salt? High sodium or chloride ion concentrations can produce a salty taste in tap water.
What can cause tap water to smell like bleach? Chlorine used for disinfection of drinking water may produce a bleach odor in the tap water.
Why some times water coming out of my tap is brown or has sediments in it? This is caused by sediment in the water mains that is disturbed by fire hydrant maintenance or water main line flushing. If your water is cloudy or has sediment or color, please flush it for 10 minutes or until it is clear.
What should I do if I turned on a faucet and the water coming out is discolored? Do not be alarmed. Run your faucets for about ten minutes to make sure the water is clear. If the water does not clear within ten minutes, please notify the Water Department at 480-266-6336 or 480-266-6911.
What's drinking water quality report? Water suppliers must deliver to their customers annual drinking water quality reports or consumer confidence report (CCR). These reports will tell consumers what contaminants have been detected in their drinking water, how these detection levels compare to drinking water standards, and where their water comes from. Gilbert posts this report online at: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/waterquality/WQR2012-REV060413.pdf . It is also available in printed form by calling: 480-503-6387
Where can I go for further information?
American Water Works Association: www.awwa.org
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov
Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov
If you have further questions or concerns, please fill out this on-line request for water quality inquiry. You may also call Public Works at 480-503-6400 (Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm) and a customer service representative will be happy to assist you.