Physical Characteristics

Even though cloudy or odd-smelling water may not actually be harmful to drink, we generally object to these physical characteristics. Turbidity—a muddy or cloudy appearance—is caused by suspended clay, silt, or other particles, or by plankton or other small organic material. Color changes can be due to dissolved organic matter, such as decaying vegetation, or other materials like rust. Like turbidity, color changes don't usually threaten health. Unpleasant taste and odor can be caused by organic materials, salts, or dissolved gases, and can often be treated after being diagnosed. Foaming is not necessarily a health threat, but may indicate concentrations of detergents present in water contaminated by domestic wastes.

Most people prefer water at a temperature of 10°C

Agricultural Runoff

Agricultural Runoff

Figure 7-1 Groundwater contamination.

to 16°C (50°F-60°F) for drinking. When water standing in pipes becomes warmer, people often run it down the drain until it cools.

When water is piped under pressure throughout the plumbing system, air can become trapped in the water and cause cloudiness. This is only temporary and the water clears up in a short time. You can safely drink, cook with, or bathe in this water.

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