Is my tap water safe to drink?
Yes!  SUB’s Water Division routinely samples and analyzes water quality from the source, through our treatment process, and throughout our distribution system to ensure a water service that meets or exceeds all drinking water standards established by state and federal regulations.

My family has been sick.  How can I be sure my water is not the cause?
With increased public awareness on issues related to health and infectious diseases, the SUB Water Division is occasionally asked whether SUB’s tap water could be the cause of illness.  This is highly unlikely, since SUB provides water that is treated to high quality standards, maintains adequate chlorine residual throughout the distribution system and uses utmost care in maintaining its distribution system.

How can I get my water tested?
Private laboratories can test your tap water for a fee.  Not all labs are accredited to test for all contaminants.  For information about accredited labs, call the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program at 503-693-4122.

Where can I obtain additional information about my water quality?
View SUB’s 2019 Water Quality Report for your water system or contact SUB’s Water Division at (541) 726-2396.

Is it safe to drink water from a garden hose?
Substances used in vinyl garden hoses to keep them flexible can get into the water as it passes through the hose.  These substances are not good for you or your pets.  There are hoses made with “foodgrade” plastics that will not contaminate the water, although microbial contaminants may accumulate after a hose sits unused.

Is it okay to use water from the hot water tap for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula?
Water from the hot water faucet should not be used for drinking or food or beverage preparation.  Hot water systems (tanks, boilers) contain metallic parts that corrode over time and contaminate the water.  Hot water is more corrosive than cold water and is more likely to contain unhealthy compounds.

How can I improve the taste of my water?
The taste of water can be improved simply by refrigerating your drinking water in a pitcher or container.  To remove any chlorine taste or odors simply shake the covered container and allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. The chlorine will dissipate.

Is bottled water better than my tap water?
SUB’s water meets very stringent state and federal water quality standards.  Not only do we test for chemicals that the federal and state government require – we test for much more. Standards for bottled water are far less stringent than the standards we meet. In studies done by independent organizations, some bottled water was not all that it had claimed to be. In fact, much of it comes from municipal water systems. Bottled water also creates a tremendous amount of plastic that must be dealt with. Then there is the issue of price.  Bottled water can cost over 3000 times more than SUB’s tap water.  We have them beat on quality, safety, and price!

Are sodium levels in SUB’s drinking water affecting my health?
There is currently no drinking water standard for sodium.  Sodium is an essential nutrient.  Sodium in SUB’s water typically ranges between 4 and 13 milligrams/Liter, a level unlikely to contribute to adverse health effects.

Does SUB add fluoride to drinking water?
No.  SUB does not add fluoride to the water and when tested no fluoride is detected.  Fluoride is a naturally occurring trace element in surface and groundwater.

Is there lead in my water?
SUB has not detected lead in its treated water or source water.  However, lead can come from a customer’s plumbing and/or service line.  Lead can enter drinking water when the water comes in contact with plumbing materials such as lead solder, or when it comes in contact with faucets, valves, and other components made of brass (brass may have lead in it).  This interaction is referred to as corrosion.  When water stands for several hours or more in fixtures or pipes that contain lead solder, the lead may leach into the water.   Below are some steps to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.
• Run your water to flush out lead.
Before using water for drinking or cooking, run the water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it becomes colder from the tap, especially if the water has not been used for many hours.  This flushes stagnant water which may contain lead from the pipes.
• Use cold, fresh water for cooking, drinking and preparing baby formula.
Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water.  Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
• Regularly clean your faucet aerator.
Particles containing lead from solder or household plumbing can become trapped in your faucet aerator.  Regularly cleaning every few months will remove these particles and reduce your exposure to lead.
For more information about drinking water or how to reduce your exposure to lead you can contact the EPA Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or visit www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

What is the difference between hard and soft water?
Put quite simply, hard water has more minerals in it than soft water.  Rainwater is naturally soft – it contains only small amounts of minerals.  But as the water passes through rocks, such as chalk and limestone, minerals in the rocks are dissolved in the water, giving it its hard nature.  Calcium carbonate is the mineral most commonly associated with water hardness.  This is the same mineral found in many calcium supplements sold by your local drug or health food store.  Hard water reduces the “sudsing” ability of soap and may cause the spots on your dishes and glasses after washing and air-drying.  Soft water is water that is low in calcium carbonate.
Calcium carbonate is an essential nutrient that is used by your body to fortify bones and teeth.  It also helps your muscles to function properly.  Water hardness is measured in milligrams per Liter or grains per gallon.  The hardness of the SUB’s tap water is typically around 20 to 100 milligrams per Liter or 1 to 6 grains per gallon.

Do I need a home filtration device if I have SUB tap water?
If you are a customer of SUB, it’s really not necessary.  Your water is tested constantly to ensure it is safe and meets all water quality standards.  Some filters will remove chlorine and traces of copper and lead that may be present in your home’s plumbing.  All home filtration devices require regular maintenance and if not conducted, water quality problems may occur.
Before purchasing a home water treatment unit, review SUB’s water quality report, consider cost and maintenance of the unit, product performance and certifications to make sure the unit will meet your needs.

Should I get a home water softener?
A water softener can improve the aesthetic (non health) qualities of your household water.  For example, soap products perform better in softer water.  But a water softener does not improve the safety or quality of water as it relates to health.  Most water softeners exchange sodium for existing calcium and magnesium in the water and therefore, increase the sodium content of the water.  The sodium increase in softened water may be a concern to you.  If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you may want to consult your physician prior to purchasing a system.
Also, there is evidence that softened water may be corrosive to certain metallic pipe materials.  The cost of softening water is another factor that should be taken into consideration.  According to Consumer Reports, water softeners can consume from 15 to 120 gallons of water for every 1,000 gallons of water processed.  The decision to purchase a home water softener is therefore one of personal preference.

Should I get a home carbon filtering device?
You can use a hand-held pitcher with an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine, or install a point-of-use water treatment device on a faucet for your cooking and drinking water.  Be certain that the device has been tested by an independent organization for aesthetic (non-health) use.  ANSI/NSF Standard 42 establishes minimum requirements for materials, design and construction, and performance of drinking water devices that reduce specific aesthetic-related contaminants in public or private water supplies.  These products usually contain activated carbon that can remove many chemicals that affect taste and odor, including chlorine.  Point of use devices contain filter cartridges that must be changed out periodically.  Be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations to replace the cartridges.  If you plan to store water from these devices, treat the water as a food product, and use clean, airtight containers and refrigerate, as the water is no longer protected from bacteriological contamination.

Can I use tap water for my fish?
Generally, you need to take a few fairly simple measures to make your tap water safe for your fish before you add it to their tank or pond.
This is because:
•  the temperature of the tap water is likely to be quite different to the temperature in your tank or pond;
•  tap water may contain traces of metals that are harmless to us but can damage your fish;
•  tap water contains a small amount of chlorine to safeguard our health, which can be harmful to your fish;
•  the acidity of the tap water is likely to be different than the water in your tank or pond.
Check with a local pet store to determine if you need to dechlorinate your water or for other precautions you may need based on your household plumbing and variety of fish.

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Color and Appearance of Water

Particles in Water

Staining of Plumbing Fixtures and Glassware

Taste and Odor of Water

I just moved to Springfield, why does the water taste different?

If you recently moved to the SUB service area, your new water may taste different to you.  Just as various brands of bottled water taste different due to the varying minerals they contain, the taste of domestic drinking water also varies with its source(s).  Over time, you will become accustomed to its taste.  Be assured that the drinking water  SUB provides meets or surpasses all state and federal drinking water standards.

Why does my water smell like chlorine?
We’re required to add very small and safe amounts of chlorine to your water to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.  This may mean that you encounter chlorine-type tastes and odors from time to time.  We carefully monitor the levels that we add to make sure your water is always safe to drink and use.  Heating water or increases in outside temperature can make the chlorine odor more noticeable, so you may notice the odor more when you run a bath or take a shower.  Even though the odor may be stronger when water is warmed up, it’s still perfectly safe to use.  Some customers are more sensitive to the smell of chlorine than others.  However, the odor or taste from chlorinated water should never be overwhelming.
There are two common causes for a chlorinous, bleachy, chemical, or medicinal odor or taste in the water: the chlorine that we add to the water or the interaction of that chlorine with a build-up of organic material in your plumbing system.  It is helpful to identify the source in finding a solution.

Here are two characteristics of a public water supply related odor:
•  The odor occurs at all the water fixtures on the property.
•  The odor persists no matter how long the water is run.
Here are two characteristics of a plumbing related odor:
• The odor occurs in only one or several, but not all, of the water fixtures on the property.
• The odor is not noticeable after running the water for a few minutes.
If you are not certain of the source, check the water supply to the property.  To check the water supply, take a clean glass and go to the water faucet (hose bib) at the front of property closest to the water meter at the street (typically the water meter is in front of home).  Turn the water on wide-open and run it for a full two minutes.  Check the time; two minutes is a long time.  After the two minutes, disconnect the water hose if there is one attached and sample the water. 

If the odor seems overpowering or bleachy after running this test, contact us at (541) 726-2396. If the water is much better at the front faucet than at the fixtures on the property, flushing your plumbing is recommended.
Improving water quality is as simple as flushing your water pipes to remove the accumulation of organic material.  This procedure is outlined in the following steps.
1.  Remove the screens (called aerators) from the ends of the indoor faucets and run all of the faucets wide-open and simultaneously for 3 to 5 minutes.
2.  Flush the toilets two or three times each while the faucets are running.  Running all the water faucets and toilets simultaneously generates a large flow of water through the pipes and will generally dislodge any build-up of organic material that is causing the taste and odor problem.  Removing the aerators before flushing the plumbing will prevent anything dislodged by flushing from accumulating on the screens.
3.  After 3 to 5 minutes of flushing, turn off the water faucets, clean the aerators, and reinstall the aerators on the ends of the faucets.

How can I reduce or eliminate the smell of chlorine in my water?
If you find chlorine taste in the water objectionable, fill a container with water and store it in the refrigerator for drinking.  Leave the cap slightly loose and most of the chlorine smell should dissipate.
You can also use a hand-held pitcher with an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine, or install a point-of-use water treatment device on a faucet for your cooking and drinking water.  Be certain that the device has been tested by an independent organization for aesthetic (non-health) use.  ANSI/NSF Standard 42 establishes minimum requirements for materials, design and construction, and performance of drinking water devices that reduce specific aesthetic-related contaminants in public or private water supplies.  These products usually contain activated carbon that can remove many chemicals that affect taste and odor, including chlorine.
Point of use devices contain filter cartridges that must be changed out periodically.  Be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations to replace the cartridges.  If you plan to store water from these devices, treat the water as a food product, and use clean, airtight containers and refrigerate, as the water is no longer protected from bacteriological contamination.

How do I know if the odor of the water is from my own plumbing or from the public water supply?
If the water supply is causing the odor, you will experience the odor at every water faucet and it will be persistent.  If the source of the odor is in your plumbing, you will experience the odor in only one or several, but not all, of the faucets.  If the problem goes away after running the water for a few minutes, the cause is somewhere in your plumbing.  If your plumbing is the source of the odor, you can try flush the plumbing system or you can consult a licensed plumber. Contact SUB at (541) 726-2396 if you suspect the public water supply. 

When you detect an odor in your tap water, we recommend that you perform what we call a glass test at the faucet where you detect the odor.
•  Run the cold water tap for at least 30 seconds
•  Get a clean glass, then fill and rinse twice with cold tap water.
•  Fill the glass and turn off the faucet
•  Step away from the sink (This eliminates the possibility of mistaking odors from your drain for odors in your water.)
•  Smell the water in the glass and characterize the odor, if any.

I just had my plumbing worked on.  Why does my water have a different taste?
New or modified plumbing can give your water an unusual taste or odor.  This is caused when traces of copper and other materials come into contact with your water.  This will usually improve with time as a thin protective layer of natural scale forms on the new plumbing, sealing the copper.
Tap or stopcock washer rubber causes an odd taste or odor, particularly if taps or stopcocks are new, old or haven’t been used for some time.  You will usually only notice the odor or taste when you use the particular tap causing the problem (unless it’s the stopcock, which will affect every tap).  You may need to replace the washer, if the washer has been damaged because of a worn tap seating, you will need to replace the tap seating too.
Flexible braided metal hoses are often used in modern plumbing, usually to make connections under the sink.  The rubber or plastic lining inside them can sometimes cause an antiseptic taste.  If the flexible hose is part of your drinking water plumbing, you may need to ask a plumber to replace the hose with an alternative type of hose that does not contain rubber.

Why does my water have a metallic or bitter taste?
Water with a metallic or bitter taste is most likely a sign of corrosion in older galvanized iron and copper pipe plumbing in your home.  A metallic or bitter taste is most likely to occur first thing in the morning or after extended periods of no water use.  If you experience a metallic or bitter taste in your water, turn your tap on full flow for at least 30 seconds to flush out the stagnant water.  The water will be replaced with fresh water from SUB’s water supply.
Occasionally glasses or cups that have been through a dishwasher may retain traces of detergents.  As a test, try rinsing the glass or cup with tap water and see whether the taste is still there.  If so, adjust the settings on your dishwasher and use no more than the recommended amount of detergent and rinse-aid.

Why does my water smell like rotten eggs or sewage?
Sometimes customers report that their tap water smells septic, swampy, moldy or like sewage, sewer gas, sulfur or rotten eggs. These odors are often caused by gases forming in the household drain. These gases are formed by bacteria which live on food, soap, hair and other organic matter in the drain. These gases are heavier than air and remain in the drain until the water is turned on. As the water runs down the drain, the gases are expelled into the atmosphere around the sink. It is natural to associate these odors with the water because they are observed only when the water is turned on. In this case, the odor is not in the water, it is simply the water pushing the gas out of the drain. This can be verified by taking a glass of water from the tap and walking away to another area to smell the glass of water.
Cold Water: If the odor is not evident in the glass, but is noticeable when you are standing at the sink with the cold water is running, then the odor is most likely coming from the drain.  This problem is easily solved by filling the sink with hot water, adding a few ounces of chlorine bleach, and allowing the hot chlorinated water to flush and disinfect the drain.  It is also good practice to periodically remove and clean the sink stopper.  The garbage disposal in the kitchen sink can be cleaned in a similar manner.
Hot Water: If you find these odors in your hot water, there are two probable causes:
•    Bacteria may be residing in the water heater.  Disinfecting the water heater may eliminate this odor.  Heat disinfection is used to eliminate the bacteria.  If you do not feel comfortable doing this work yourself, hire a licensed plumber to do it for you.
•    The water heater anode may need to be replaced.  If experienced, inspect the anode yourself; otherwise, call a plumber.

Why do my ice cubes make my water taste funny?
You may notice water from your faucets tastes wonderful, but the water from the dispenser in your refrigerator and the ice cubes taste dirty.  The taste may be the result of buildup in the automatic ice maker, the water dispenser, and the hoses leading from your water source to the refrigerator.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for operation and maintenance of your refrigerator to clean those parts and replace them and any filters as necessary.

Why does my water have a swampy, fishy, earthy, musty, moldy, or grassy odor?

These odors in your water may come from natural organic matter found in river water.  Natural organic matter from river water can sometimes produce a swampy or musty taste and odor during the summer and fall months.  This organic matter will not harm you at all, and the water is safe for you to drink.
The more likely cause of these smells is hair, soap, and food waste that accumulates over time on the walls of a sink drain.  Bacteria can grow on these deposits.  As the bacteria grow and multiply, they produce gases that can smell musty or moldy.  These gases accumulate in the drain until the water is turned on.  As the water runs down the drain, the gases are expelled into the air around the sink. It is natural to assume the bad odor is coming from the water because the smell is noticeable only when the water is on.  However there is nothing wrong with the water, but the drain may need to be disinfected.

Why does my water smell and/or taste like gasoline, diesel, kerosene, paint thinner, or oil?
If there is a gasoline or diesel taste and/or odor to the water from your kitchen tap please contact SUB right away.  Please do not drink the water or use it for cooking purposes until you have sought advice from your water supplier.
Oily odors or tastes are usually caused because an oil, such as gas, diesel, kerosene or paint thinners, has been spilled and has leached into your water supply pipe.  If fuel or oil is spilled around, or near to, any underground water pipes, it’s important that they are cleaned up immediately so they don’t contaminate the water.  Replacing pipe lines can be expensive, so cleaning up the spills before they’re allowed to enter the pipe line can help to minimize costs.
Look for fuel or oil spillages on the driveway or in front of the house i.e. a car or motorcycle leaking oil.  These are the most common cause of water contamination as they can get through a plastic service pipe and affect the quality of your water supply.

Why does my washed laundry seem to smell musty or earthy?
Washed laundry that smells musty or earthy is caused by leaving wet laundry in a closed washing machine.  Molds and mildew grow quickly in dark, moist environments, particularly during warm, humid weather.  Remove laundry immediately after washing.  To remove the musty odor, wash the laundry again.