Water Research Center

My Water Has an Odor ?

Mr. Brian Oram, PG
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.



The human nose is the best odor-testing device available. Wave your hand across the water sample to make the odor come to you. A fishy odor may indicate the presence of too much dead algae. This condition may be caused by an unnatural amount of certain chemicals in the water (see phosphates and nitrates). A rotten egg smell would indicate the production of sulfur compounds (see pH). A sewage smell might indicate improperly treated sewage effluent (see phosphates and nitrates).

This list can help provide consistency in naming odors. Students should research the potential sources of these odors although this can sometimes be difficult. If the source can not be determined, be sure to consistently record it's presence for future reference.

Odor Such as odors of:
Aromatic (spicy) camphor, cloves, lavender, lemon
Balsamic (flowery) geranium, violet, vanilla
Chemical industrial wastes
Chlorinous chlorine
Hydrocarbon oil refinery
Medicinal phenol and iodine
sulfur hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg)
Disagreeable (pronounced, unpleasant)
Fishy dead fish
Septic stale sewage
Earthy damp earth
Peaty peat
Grassy crushed or mowed grass
Musty decomposing straw
Moldy damp cellar
Vegetable potatoes

Back to Main Watershed Page

For More information, please contact:

 Attn: Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist (PG)
Water Research Center
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612

Home | Technology Outreach Program |  Drinking Water Help Guides | Contact Us
 Available Test Parameters   
 Research Interests, Funded Research and Applied Research 
  Homeowner Information Water Testing
 Environmental Topics - Infiltration, Permeability, Soil Science, 
 Wellhead Protection, Groundwater, Watersheds
 PowerPoint Presentations

Continuing Education Courses - OSHA Training, Engineers, Geologists,
Sustainability, Architects, LEED Professionals

Watershed Monitoring, Research, Training,
Lake and Watershed Studies, Citizen Monitoring, Volunteer Monitoring Programs

 The Water Library - Pdf files on Water Issues and Topics
 Tools for Environmental Professionals, Citizens, and Students
 Field Training and Workshops in Earth Science
 Affiliations and Hot Links  

Search Our Site

Website Designed by:
Web Design Pros.net

eXTReMe Tracker