The Question:

For years I've noticed the water at night often tastes full of chemicals (almost like throat numbing spray) and I have to dump it out and run the faucet for a while to get rid of the taste. It's happened all over town and always at night. Why?

The Answer:
“Thanks for contacting us with your observations. The feedback you provided helps us monitor Laramie’s water system and address problems early. This is why the Laramie Public Works Department, Utility Division investigates all water quality complaints. If you call us directly and provide address information we can come to your home or business and test the water and investigate for the source of the problem. We have investigated similar taste and odor complaints in recent years. The following is general summary of what was commonly found.
Water will dissolve and absorb many different compounds. For this reason water is often referred to as the “universal solvent”. Given enough contact time water will start to taste like the container it is held in. In recent years flexible plastic plumbing is becoming more commonly used in new construction, remodeling, and repairs. As water sits in this flexible plastic pipe through the night some of the compounds used in the pipe material move into the water. This can produce a bad taste in the water first drawn from the faucet. When fresh water from the main line is flushed through the system the taste goes away. This indicates the problem is originating in the plumbing within the building.
There are a couple of problem areas the water industry has seen in the past years as it relates to new plumbing products. Here are a few of the more common examples:
• Many water heaters had plastic dip tubes that started to breakdown after 5 to 10 years of service. These complaints are becoming less frequent.
• The tube between the shutoff valves and the sink faucet can be a source of bad taste and odors in the water. Some styles of this tube are a reinforced plastic hose or a plastic hose with stainless steel braid on the outside. Many complaints have been traced to these connection hoses. Some types of these connection hoses start to break down after a few years of service and cause bad tastes and odors.
• The flexible plastic pipe commonly used in home plumbing now has been the source of many recent taste and odor complaints.
Often the problem is worse when the pipe is new. I recommend that you call the Laramie Utility Division and schedule an appointment to have your water tested. The contact phone number is 307-721-5280.”