Why is Our Tap Water So Horrible?

I’ve never thought of myself as a water snob. I’ve drunk from some pretty fetid water sources all along the Appalachian Trail. I eschew bottled water, and I’d never met tap water that I didn’t like…until I moved into Charlottesville from Free Union a few years ago. Our water is disgusting. Every now and again, some foolhardy guest will help themselves to a glass of tap water, and they’re invariably disgusted. I’ve discussed this with fellow Charlottesvillians, and people nearly always agree that it’s gross. Do cvillenewsers have the same take on it? Why is our water so awful?

6 Responses to “Why is Our Tap Water So Horrible?”


  • I smell conspiracy! Does anyone on council own part of Brita or Poland Springs? There’s gotta be a link there somewhere!

  • It’s bad because it’s surface water (i.e. reservoir stored). Surface water is poison. That’s why residents of Tucson, where I lived in the ’90s, fought tooth and nail to keep the water department from adding Colorado River water to their groundwater supply. (Tucson had been the largest U.S. metro area to use groundwater-only sources for drinking water, I believe.) It could be a lot worse than C’ville, though—try drinking tapwater in, say, Santa Barbara, or Blythe CA, which, unless they’ve started treating it in recent years, is pure borax.

  • Is County water from different sources? I find that my water in N. Albemarle is actually not bad when slightly chilled.

  • I’m in the county and we have a well. The water is wonderful: odorless, colorless, and tasteless. My husband brings a jug of water into his Charlottesville office every day, because it makes the coffee taste SO much better.

    Janis Jaquith

  • I find it best to cut the tap water with a couple of shots of scotch, kills bacteria and make sit taste better.

  • It’s surface water, but close to the headwaters. No city is dumping sewage upstream. The taste is worst in the summer and includes the chemicals added to sterilize it.

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