Why Does Florida’s Water Taste So Bad?

November 24, 2015

The question, “Why does Florida’s water taste so bad” is tough to answer because of two factors:

  1. Water quality depends on county to county and the water sources they pull from.
  2. Taste is subjective. What’s intolerable for you may be fine for me.

But we can get a gist of what causes bad tasting tap water by what contaminants the government has tried to keep out so that tap does not taste like crud.

Let’s talk about those contaminants in detail, how they affect your tap water’s taste and what you can do to get rid of them.

Contaminants that make Florida tap water taste icky

In 1979, the EPA established non-enforceable standards to lower levels of common contaminants in water that affect taste, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

These contaminants include:

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

These are a variety of inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter (minerals), including calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium cations and carbonate, hydrogen carbonate, sulfate, and nitrate anions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). TDS can make the water taste salty or bitter.


This is an ion in chlorine, which municipalities use often used to disinfect water. Instead of chloride, some areas use chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Regardless, chloride gives water a salty taste. Chloramine gives water a bleachy taste.

Natural metals

These include copper, Iron, zinc, and manganese. According to “Taste at the Tap: A Consumer's Guide to Tap Water Flavor.” Iron and copper typically comes from bad rusty pipes. Manganese comes from the water source. These metals can create a—wait for it—metallic taste in the water. Also, manganese can give it a bitter taste.

Here’s a nice chart showing how different contaminants correlate to different water tastes. (Source)

As you can see in the chart above, the EPA has set standards to keep these contaminants to a level below where it affects taste.

However, these standards are “non-enforceable” because they mainly affect water taste, not water safety. So, your water may have a higher concentration of these contaminants.

Even if these standards were met, everyone’s personal taste allows them to detect some contaminants more than others.

Basically, you can’t please everyone!

Anyway, since the government can’t solve the problem, you’ll have to do it yourself.

Here’s how.

How to improve the taste of your tap water

Step 1: identify the taste of your water

Does your water taste metallic, salty or bitter? Match that taste to the potential contaminant found in the chart above.

Step 2: Choose the right method to get rid of the contaminants

To get rid of metals, you may need to repipe your home because of your old, rusty pipes that are leaching iron or copper into the water. This problem is common in older Florida homes.

Learn more: 5 Signs Your Old Florida Home Needs New Plumbing

To get rid of minerals (TDS), you need a water softener. However, many minerals in water are good for your body, so you should consider not filtering these out.

To get rid of chloride and chloramine, you need a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filter which is found in the Halo water filter systems.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters can filter out almost all the contaminants listed here. But RO systems are usually inefficient, wasting thousands of gallons of water per year.

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, “Assuming the RO filter is 16% efficient (discharging 5 gallons for every 1 gallon of filtered water), a typical home will produce 3,600 to 9,000 gallons of discharge water per year; all needlessly wasted when drained into the sewer system.”

Want to know what’s in your water?

Contact Plumbing Today to get a free water quality test ($59 value). We have locations in Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando, & Naples and serve the surrounding areas.

We’ll help you find the right water quality products to filter out the contaminants in your water.

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