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What's Wrong With the Water In Orlando?

Updated on March 29, 2019
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of success in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, and aerospace education for Active USAF Civil Air Patrol.

A spoonbill in flight over Everglades waters. A lot of beautiful water is seen in and around Orlando, but is it all drinkable?
A spoonbill in flight over Everglades waters. A lot of beautiful water is seen in and around Orlando, but is it all drinkable? | Source

Stories of Water Treatment

If the taste and smell of the tap water in Orlando, Florida is bad, my first notion is that this is the fault of the water treatment system. The cleanest, freshest water I have seen outside of a clear mountain spring is that in California during the 1990s, as shown in a television documentary about natural water treatment via plant life..

In this California water treatment plant, chemicals and machines were replaced by plants along a long system of roots through which the waste waters flowed. The roots removed the toxic and nuisance foreign substances from the used water.

The plants standing in the waters lived from the foreign substances as nutrients. In the documentary, the system resembled a greenhouse and the plants produced cleansing chlorophyll. At the end of the channel of flowing water and roots, the resulting clean water was pure, without having had to use chemicals. Thus, no odor or "off" tastes resulted.

A portion of the Everglades.
A portion of the Everglades. | Source

If the taste and smell of the tap water in Orlando is bad, my first notion is that this is the fault of the water treatment system.

— P. Inglish

A Wide, Shallow, Slow-Moving River

How Wide is the River?

Interestingly, Central and Southern Florida is covered by a six-inch deep river that is many miles wide, originating near Orlando and flowing southward slowly through the Everglades and then out to the middle Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico.

The exact width of the marsh-grass river fluctuates often and has decreased since local Native Americans first settled here around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago> This is especially true 20th and early 21st centuries, based on erosion of America's eastern and southeastern coastlines and the rise of ocean wars.

Sources in the last 200 years have stated that the marsh-water body is ranges from from 60 to 500 miles in width.

This entity is famously called a "river of grass", often filled with native sawgrasses. Water flows through the greenery may not be filtered enough for drinking and cooking water; but, it is somewhat filtered.

This is where Florida water treatment plants come into play.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mangroves in the Everglades.  A red-shouldered hawk sits on driftwood in the Rotenberger Wildlife Management. northern portion of the Everglades.Always moving, this is a part of the River of Grass (the Everglades).Purple Gallinule Bird in the Everglades.
Mangroves in the Everglades.
Mangroves in the Everglades. | Source
A red-shouldered hawk sits on driftwood in the Rotenberger Wildlife Management. northern portion of the Everglades.
A red-shouldered hawk sits on driftwood in the Rotenberger Wildlife Management. northern portion of the Everglades. | Source
Always moving, this is a part of the River of Grass (the Everglades).
Always moving, this is a part of the River of Grass (the Everglades). | Source
Purple Gallinule Bird in the Everglades.
Purple Gallinule Bird in the Everglades. | Source

By the 2010s, the wetlands had been reduced in size by 50% by overzealous drainage attempts of the past.

— P. Inglish

Map of Reference for Orlando, Central Florida

A
Orlando Florida:
Orlando, FL, USA

get directions

B
The Everglades:
Everglades, Florida, USA

get directions

C
Key West Florida:
Key West, FL, USA

get directions

The dynamic sawgrass river that flows from Orlando into the Everglades is not stagnant or standing swamp water. It moves, but does not contain potable water that is needed for towns and cities statewide.

Water for drinking in Orlando is filtered in several stages by city water treatment facilities, but some visitors and residents feel that the result contains strange flavors.

A
Orlando Water Treatment Plant:
2544 Jmt Industrial Dr, Orlando, FL 32810, USA

get directions

B
City of Orlando Waste Water Works:
7407, 5100 L B McLeod Rd, Orlando, FL 32811, United States

get directions

C
Iron Bridge Water Treatment Plant:
601 Iron Bridge Cir, Oviedo, FL 32765, USA

get directions

The city government features three waste water treatment plants, through which 36,000,000 gallons of industrial and home-use waste water pass every day.

Iron Bridge Water Treatment Plant northeast of Orlando.
Iron Bridge Water Treatment Plant northeast of Orlando. | Source

What Is in Orlando Water?

Orlando is home to numerous water treatment companies that advertise making city water more drinkable, clean, and pure. Thus, there must be a market for their services.

The city government features three waste water treatment plants, through which 36,000,000 gallons of industrial and home-use waste water pass every day.

Officials indicate that pre-treatment is required of most local industrial waste waters. This may suggest heavy loads of pollutants or toxins in the water that can create strange flavors and odors. At the same time, bacteria and other microorganisms are used to clean the waste waters. This might also cause odd flavors or odors in some cases.

Water is treated with chlorine and called "reclaimed water" that you can use for watering the lawn but not for drinking. Some of it is efficiently filtered through sand and sent to drinking water reserves.

All the water from one of the three water treatment plants, the Iron Bridge plant, is used to maintain a wetlands in Orlando that hosts a Wetlands Festival in this park every year during Mid-February. This water is not potable, but is rich in nutrients good for plants.

The Orlando Wetlands Park receives on average approximately 14 million gallons of reclaimed water per day. The Park’s primary purpose is to provide advanced treatment of that reclaimed water so that it can be safely discharged into the St. Johns River.

— Orlando wetlands Management at www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/wetlands-management/

Opinions of Residents

Residents of Orlando/Central Florida have expressed several opinions about the drinking water and posted on forums answering questions about water for travelers.

Some say that they believe Disney World® activities affect the local water supply by inadvertently dumping water containing chemicals or elements not filtered out by the several bacterial and sand stages used in city water treatment. This would leave tastes and smells, hopefully not harmful to humans.

Other Orlando area residents say that the local water has an overly chlorinated taste that they ignore. Still others say that they need a home water filtering system to make the water palatable.

Some residents and officials report that bird defecation and sand particles cause bad colors and odors in lakes and tap water that they will not drink.

Coke in Central Florida
Coke in Central Florida | Source

Solutions for Off-Flavor Water

Travel advisors tell tourists to bring their own small filtering system with them to Florida, such as a small filter that fits onto a commercial water bottle itself, or to pack their own drinking water.

Tap water might not be the only water tasting and smelling strange in Orlando, though. Ice cubes made from the water may make beverages taste strange and Coca-Cola® bottled in Orlando likely uses Orlando water as well. The Coke will taste different. The coffee and tea might taste different as well - even soups made with local water. It is a far-reaching situation.

If you are planning to visit or relocate to Orlando, call your hotel ahead of time and ask about the water quality, smells and tastes, and ask for suggestions. You might consider taking bottled water with you for your stay. Happy journey!

Beautiful Orlando water.
Beautiful Orlando water. | Source

Sources

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Jay - That is interesting and rather disturbing information. If soft drinks are bottled there, then the water is probably in them, too. Visitors must be well prepared water-0wsie for their visits to Florida!

    • profile image

      Jay 

      3 years ago

      I visit Florida 1 time a year I get sick all the time from my stomach , keep in mind everyone even though you purchase bottle water , the restaurants you visit also use the water to cook with .

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I am sorry that you had to drink something that tasted like burnt charcoal! I suppose soft drinks bottled in the area taste the same way - Charcoal Pepsi!

      People, be careful of the water in Orlando!

    • profile image

      Ellie 

      4 years ago

      Just got home from Disney World (Orlando), and the water tasted like burnt charcoal! My cousin stated it smelled as if it came from the bottom of a lake (Unsanitized in that regard), but I swear up and down burnt charcoal.

      I'm from West Virginia (a fairly polluted area actually), and the water here tastes funny, but it's more of a chemical taste then what was in Disney World.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I hate the smell and taste of sulfur too! Sorry you are living with it.

    • profile image

      Lissa 

      4 years ago

      I grew up in Miami, drinking tap water, where we get our water from lake okeechobee (or so we're told). Moving to Orlando was the worst! The water tastes and smells like sulfur. I've been living here for close to 3 years now and I'm still not used to it.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      7 years ago

      Don't believe life long Florida residents that say the water tastes fine. They've been using this water all their lives and just don't know any better! Having just moved here and through talking to other people who have also relocated to the orland area I can confirm that smell and taste of Orlando water is terrible compared to other places. Even a Brita filter doesn't really help, and showering in it is an unpleasant experience every single day. Maybe I just grew up spoiled, but I don't think I can live here long term, and the water is a big reason why!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your this very interesting post. voted up, useful, awesome, interesting.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      7 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I didn't know this about Orlando water when I was at Disney just this past Christmas. I'll keep it in mind if ever we return, thanks for the hub, vote up, useful and interesting.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Lake Tahoe! That's nice water in many ways.

      A lot of people say they notice nothing odd about Orlando water, but it's probably similar to their home tap water. I almost always purchase spring water wherever I go. Cheers!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Wow, Patti, thanks for the heads up. I was planning on visiting Florida later on the year...I'll definitely heed your advice.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      7 years ago

      Some of the purest water out of the tap is in Lake Tahoe!! ;-)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      There's a lot of bad tasting water around, from what I am hearing.

      The reclaimed water is used to water groves of orange trees, according to the teo water treatment plants that service the plantlife and people. Sounds like it needs more filtering.

      Thanks for comments!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Patty, even in my country, Jamaica, I don't drink the tap water that comes from the reservoir. The chemicals in the water taste so strong, I fear it will make me sick. I drink the spring water, luckily I'm from the country where we get the water directly from the springs.

      I want to point out that plants do not like chlorinated water, plants thrive better with soft water. I am not sure what the best use for the reclaimed water would be but I am sure that it's not good for the lawn, the soil or for human consumption.

    • BethBrown profile image

      BethBrown 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Thank you! As a Florida resident, I purchase water for drinking, but feel I shouldn't have to. Your hub is very informative and Earth Angel, you have a great point!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      7 years ago

      Good Morning Patty!

      We wonder why disease and dis-ease is on the rise in the U.S. and yet our water system is polluted and then treated with thousands of chemicals!

      I am allergic to bleach and hydrotetrachroride, both used regularly in "cleaning" our water! Hydrotetrachroride is also used in "dry cleaning" fluid!!

      Even if we filter our water prior to drinking, it is still in the water we use for bathing! And we wonder why autism is on the rise??

      I have a whole-house water filtration system installed at the junction before the hot water heater - as near the street before the water comes into the house!

      Water is such an important element in our health ~ and yet we pay so little attention to it!

      Thanks Patty for highlighting this critical issue!

      Blessings always, Earth Angel!

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