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Problem / Symptoms Cause Solutions

Grayish white film in sinks, tubs, dishes, reduced suds in laundry, frequent failure of water heater elements, scale in teapots.

Hardness due to calcium and magnesium dissolved from bedrock.

There is no drinking standard but a hardness level above about 120 mg/L¹ or 7 grains per gallon is most likely to cause these symptoms.

Ion exchange water softener (exchanges calcium and magnesium for sodium or potassium).

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Water which is initially clear but produces brown, orange or red- dish stains or sediment, metallic tasting water.

Iron dissolved from bedrock or from nearby disturbance (mining, etc.).

Iron above the drinking water standard (SMCL²) of 0.3 mg/L is most likely to cause these symptoms.

Removal of Iron by catalytic oxidation or by oxidation with strong oxidising agent like ozone followed by media filtration.

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Manganese concentration and pH should also be considered when choosing treatment .

Black specks or black stains, metallic tasting water.

Standing water (tub or toilet tank) may appear gray or black.

Manganese dissolved from bedrock or from nearby disturbance (mining, etc.).

Manganese above the SMCL of 0.05 mg/L will cause these symptoms.

Water softener (low concentrations of manganese if recommended by manufacturer), oxidizing filter for higher concentrations (pH adjustment of water may be necessary to optimize removal).

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(pH adjustment of water may be necessary to optimise removal)

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Salty taste, corrosion of metals.

Chloride dissolved from bedrock or from various local activities (road salt, gas drilling brines, etc.).

Chloride above the SMCL of 250 mg/L is most likely to cause these symptoms.

Reverse osmosis or distillation systems at individual taps. As chloride is very difficult to remove from water, consider developing new source of water.

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Orange or opaque gelatinous film or strands coating toilet, and sinks, musty odor.

Oily film on water surface

Iron bacteria. There is no drinking water standard for iron bacteria in water but any presence of these bacteria can cause these symptoms.

Shock chlorination of well, continuous down-well chlorination using pellet droppers in severe cases.

Follow-up with multi-level media unit. Carbon filtration may be needed to reduce chlorine.

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Gurgling or bubbling noise in well, spurting faucets, white gas bubbles in water.

Dissolved gases in water (methane, ethane, carbon dioxide) from natural sources or from mining/gas drilling.

There are no standards for these gases. Methane concentrations above 28 mg/L are most likely to cause these symptoms.

Continue routine testing if concentrations is below 7 mg/L. Install vented well cap above about 7 mg/L and aeration system for higher concentrations (above about 28 mg/L).

Rotten egg odour in cold and hot water, black greasy stains. 

Hydrogen sulphide, sulphides, sulphate reducing bacteria in groundwater.

There is no standard but any amount can cause these symptoms.

NOTE: odour at one sink may be caused by bacteria in drain rather than water (disinfect drain to remove odour).

 Shock chlorination of well (in some cases), oxidizing filter, continuous chlorination and filtration.

Activated carbon filtration may be used for less severe cases.

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Rotten egg odour in hot water only.

Hydrogen sulfide generated by a chemical reaction with anti-corrosion magnesium rod (often called the “anode rod”) in hot water heater.

Remove and omit rod or replace with alternate metal rod (caution: removing rod may void the heater warranty).

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Turbid, cloudy, or dirty water.

Measurable concentrations of total suspended sediment (TSS) or turbiditycaused by silt, sediment, and clay from runoff or nearby earth disturbance or drilling activities.

May also originate from oxidised metals (iron above 0.3 mg/L and/or manganese above 0.05 mg/L) that are naturally occurring or from mining.

Cartridge or bag element filtration (less severe cases) or multi-level media filtration (more severe cases).

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Oily film floating on water (see also iron bacteria discussion on page 1.

Variety of substances including fuels, motor oil, lubricating oil, cooking oil, animal-derived fats and decomposition of natural organic matter.

There are various water tests including Oil and Grease, and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH).

Whole house series-activated carbon filtration. Ongoing testing may be necessary to determine frequency of replacing carbon in the filter.

Ion exchange organics specific

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