What if the water smells funny?

Some customers have reported their tap water smells like chlorine, blood, or metal. The City is committed to providing water that looks, tastes, and smells good, but it is important to note these types of odors are aesthetic and usually do not pose a public health threat. In order to correct the problem, it is first necessary to determine whether the odor originates from the water supply or your household plumbing.

If the odor occurs at every water faucet at the residence, it is probably the main water supply. If it only occurs in certain faucets, the problem is the household plumbing. In most cases, the best way to reduce odor caused by household plumbing is to run the faucet for several minutes. If the smell persists or you have concerns, contact the City of Longview Utility Operations Center at 360-442-5700.

Common Odor Complaints


To prevent illness, a small amount of chlorine is added during the water treatment process to kill any bacteria or microorganisms that might be present in the raw water. The chlorine concentration in the finished water supply leaving the Mint Farm Water Treatment Plant is closely monitored, but the amount of chlorine in the water at your home or business varies slightly depending on location. Chlorine is virtually odorless at the proper concentration to maintain a slight residual, but you may detect its odor if the level is too low or too high. 

Metallic or Blood

The finished water leaving the Mint Farm Water Treatment Plant has been treated to remove iron, manganese and arsenic from the raw groundwater. However, as the water moves through the distribution system and interacts with the scale build-up inside the water mains, some minerals are dissolved into the water. Iron has been determined to be the most common cause of these odors, but other metals such as copper, zinc, and manganese may also be found.

Sulfur or Rotten Egg

Bacteria living on food, soap, hair, and other organic matter in the drain / hot water heater can form gases which produce a sulfur or rotten egg small. The bacteria is not a health hazard and it is common to associate the smell with the water because it is most noticeable when the water is turned on.

To confirm the odor is gas pushed out of the drain by the water rather than the water itself, take a glass of cold water into another room to smell it. If the water has no odor, the problem is in the drain and can likely be eliminated by disinfecting the drain to kill the bacteria. If the problem is isolated to the hot water systems, contact a licensed plumber or consult your owner’s manual to evaluate the heating element and/or temperature setting.

Show All Answers

1. Why does my tap water appear to be discolored?
2. Why didn't we rebuild the Fisher's Lane water treatment plant?
3. Why didn't we stay with the Cowlitz River?
4. How long will the groundwater supply last?
5. Will the groundwater stain my laundry and household fixtures?
6. Why not move the water supply intake to a better location on the Cowlitz River or Columbia River?
7. What is in the groundwater?
8. Until how long is the groundwater supply expected to last?
9. How do I know the groundwater won’t become contaminated?
10. Where does the groundwater come from?
11. Has there been a change in the pH levels after switching to the new water source?
12. What if the water smells funny?
13. Should I consider getting a water softener?
14. What can I do about hard water?
15. How does hard water impact my life?
16. What is the City doing to reduce hardness?
17. What is the hardness of the City's new groundwater source?
18. Where do hard water minerals come from?
19. Is hard water safe?
20. What is water hardness?