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A Water Taster's Glossary

January 02, 1988

As in every profession, the water tasters who work for the Metropolitan Water District have their own lexicon. Here are some tasters' terms for problem water.

Cardboard or rubber: Cause unknown, but chlorine rids the water of the taste.

Grassy: Caused by hexenol, nicknamed leaf alcohol, which occurs in all green plants

Musty-moldy: Caused by 2-methylisoborneol, an algae byproduct every fall and summer. People can taste 5 parts per trillion.

Swampy: Caused by dimethyltrisulfide at certain concentrations, which smell like garlic or onions and result from a breakdown of proteins of algae.

Swimming pool: Caused by bichloramine, same cause as above.

Watermelon, melon or cucumber: Caused by nonenalfrom from algae.

Dry mouth: Water high in dissolved solids and minerals.

Fishy: Water with a rotten, fishy smell caused by trimethylamine, a breakdown of algae proteins.

Geranium: Water with trichloramine, occasional byproduct from mixing of chlorine and ammonia to treat water.

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