Several reviews of treatment methodologies for control of off-flavors in drinking water have recently been published. This paper builds on these reviews, adding new information developed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and other research groups.
The most important tool in any program to control off-flavors is a reliable, reproducible, easy-to-use analytical method. It is difficult to control off-flavor problems unless the off-flavor compound is identified or a sensory technique is used. From a cost perspective, most off-flavors can be best controlled at the source. Treatment methods, particularly those utilizing chemicals and activated carbon, are effective but expensive, and they can lead to secondary problems that are more objectionable than the off-flavor.