Influence of alkalinity, hardness and dissolved solids on drinking water taste: A case study of consumer satisfaction

J Environ Manage. 2007 Jan;82(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2005.11.017. Epub 2006 May 8.


Two surveys of consumer satisfaction with drinking water conducted by Taiwan Water Supply Corp. are presented in this study. The study results show that although a lot of money was invested to modify traditional treatment processes, over 60% of local residents still avoided drinking tap water. Over half of the respondents felt that sample TT (from the traditional treatment process) was not a good drinking water, whether in the first or second survey, whereas almost 60% of respondents felt that samples PA, PB, CCL and CT (from advanced treatment processes) were good to drink. For all drinking water samples, respondent satisfaction with a sample primarily depended on it having no unpleasant flavors. Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration plans to revise the drinking water quality standards for TH and TDS in the near future. The new standards require a lower TH concentration (from currently 400mg/L (as CaCO(3)) to 150mg/L (as CaCO(3))), and a lower TDS maximum admissible concentration from the current guideline of 600 to 250mg/L. Therefore, this study also evaluated the impacts on drinking water tastes caused by variations in TH and TDS concentrations, and assessed the need to issue more strict drinking water quality standards for TH and TDS. The research results showed that most respondents could not tell the difference in water taste among water samples with different TDS, TH and alkalinity. Furthermore, hardness was found to be inversely associated with cardiovascular diseases and cancers, and complying with more strict standards would lead most water facilities to invest billions of dollars to upgrade their treatment processes. Consequently, in terms of drinking water tastes alone, this study suggested that Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration should conduct more thorough reviews of the scientific literature that provides the rationale for setting standards and reconsider if it is necessary to revise drinking water quality standards for TH and TDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Carbonate / analysis
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Consumer Product Safety / standards*
  • Data Collection
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Hardness
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Quality Control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan
  • Taste*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Supply / standards*


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Calcium Carbonate