Case Study 5 | Water is Green - Alkaline/Metallic Taste / Odor (Problem with the Hot Water)




Water is Green - Alkaline/Metal Taste / Odor (Problem with the Hot Water)

Brian Oram, Geologist and founder of KnowYourH2O holding a jug of well water and yes it is light green with particles that are green and white.

Copper Carbonate
More Photos of Other Green Particles. Also, see Case 7

Level 1 Observational Testing / Water Issues

Emailed Report from Well Owner in Colorado

1. Water became intermittently discolored - Green and Blue.
2. Hot water was more discolored than cold water.
3. Hot water had a slight odor.
4. Had to turn up the hot water heater to a higher setting to produce hot water.
5. Drained hot water heater - greenish sludge came out the base.
6. When the sludge was shaken - the sludge would break up into fine particles that would become suspended in the water and with time it would create a coarser particle and settle.

Inspection & Assessment

Level 2 and Level 3 Testing

1. Water Quality Testing - The water coming in the house was crystal clear, but the water coming out of the hot water pipes was greenish to blue-green.
2. Aerators would clog because of a greenish to white precipitate.
3. No Coliform Bacteria - but slime bacteria was elevated.
4. Water chemical analysis - the cold water had a high pH, high hardness, high alkalinity, was potentially scale forming and had an elevated level of Slime Bacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, and Chloride over 100 mg/L, but the hot water had a slightly lower hardness, lower Alkalinity, and higher levels of Copper and Lead.
5. Activities in the area - rural area.

Suspected Problem

Corrosion - there was some biologically-induced corrosion in the system that leached Copper and Lead out of the water pipes. The elevated temperature in the hot water heater caused some of the carbon dioxide in the water to outgas, raising the pH. This caused the solution to become supersaturated and cause a precipitate to form. The precipitate was green and white because it appeared to be a combination of Calcium and Magnesium Carbonate with some Copper Carbonate (see image above).

Treatment Action

1. Pasteurized the heating unit as a result of suspecting a sulfate bacteria issue, and shock disinfected the well.
2. Flushed the system.
3. Changed the temperature setting of the hot water heater.
4. Installed a UV system to disinfect the water to control slime bacteria and lower the high standard-plate count.
5. There were warranty issues with the heater. Because the water required pretreatment, the company that manufactured the unit would not warranty the unit unless a treatment system was installed.


Water Quality Returned to Normal, but the owner had to flush the hot water heater every 6 months.

Case Study 6 >

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