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This Is Why the Water Tastes So Bad in Las Vegas (Answered)

Both Las Vegas locals and tourists notice that the water in Sin City tastes different than elsewhere. Some say it has a “dusty” taste, so what’s behind this strange flavor?

The water in Las Vegas tastes bad because of chlorine and other chemicals used to treat it. High amounts of magnesium and calcium also leave a distinct taste in the water. Nevertheless, the water in Las Vegas is still safe to drink.

In this post, I’ll talk about how Las Vegas gets its water, what affects its taste, and whether you should worry about the bad taste in Vegas tap water.

A woman drinking bad tasting water in las vegas

Why Does Las Vegas Water Taste So Bad?

Las Vegas Water Contains Fluoride

Various minerals and chemicals cause Las Vegas water to taste different. The city gets most of its water from the Colorado River and groundwater. Because of this, there is some naturally occurring fluoride in southern Nevada’s water.

In addition, in the year 2000, the voters in Clark County (where Las Vegas is located) mandated that additional fluoride be added to the county’s water supply. Flouride (both added and naturally occurring) adds to the bad taste of tap water in Las Vegas.

Fluoride is a chemical that helps prevent tooth decay, but it can also cause unwanted changes in water quality. Fluoride can make water taste bad or different from bottled water.

Additionally, excessive exposure to fluoride in water can lead to health issues, such as tooth discoloration, thyroid issues, and even skin problems. The Las Vegas Valley Water District, however, monitors the level of fluoride (keeping it under 0.7 mg/l) in the water supply to prevent these problems from becoming an issue.

Chlorine is Added To Las Vegas Water Supplies

Chlorine is a common additive to tap water both in Las Vegas and other cities and is used in order to kill bacteria and viruses. It’s a common disinfectant used in public water systems. However, some people notice that chlorine changes the taste of water. Still, the taste in Las Vegas is usually mild and not overwhelming.

Vegas Water Contains Calcium and Magnesium

As is the case with many desert cities, Las Vegas water also contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. Both of these nontoxic minerals cause the exceptionally hard water conditions found in Las Vegas.

hard water calcium scale on shower head in las vegas
The high levels of calcium and magnesium not only affect the taste of the water in Las Vegas but also cause calcium buildup on taps and shower heads.

These two minerals are not added to the water but occur naturally as runoff from the mineral-dense desert flows into Lake Mead. The benefit of calcium, in particular, helps to make the municipal water source more alkaline, which helps reduce the risk of corrosion in metal pipes.

While calcium does affect the taste of tap water, it’s not always a bad thing. Calcium helps to somewhat reduce the unpleasant aftertaste caused by chlorine. Additionally, calcium can help improve tap water’s clarity and color.

In the end, the combination of fluoride, chlorine, calcium, and magnesium is what gives Las Vegas tap water its bad taste.

When Do You Need To Worry About the Taste of Water?

Chemicals and minerals naturally present in tap water can cause unpleasant tastes and make your beverages less refreshing. When there are high levels of chlorine in your water, for example, you might notice that drinks such as tea, coffee, lemonade, etc. don’t have the same flavor.

Nevertheless, taking note of how your water tastes aren’t just about achieving the best possible drink experience. Water quality can also affect your health and well-being.

While tap water in developed countries is generally safe to drink, there are times when it may not be. If you notice a change in the taste or smell of your water, or if it seems cloudy or has strange colors, you should take action. You can assess the quality of your tap water by using a filter pitcher or buying a water testing kit (Amazon).

Fortunately, Las Vegas water is very safe to drink. While the bad taste of Las Vegas water may be unpleasant, it meets or exceeds all federal standards for clean, safe drinking water.

The majority of Vegas locals, myself included, have installed a water filtration system in their homes and that is where they get their drinking water from. Home filtration systems remove or reduce many of the minerals that give Las Vegas water its poor taste.

Should You Choose To Drink Tap Water?

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not you should drink tap water. Some say drinking bottled water is healthier because it doesn’t contain any chemicals or pollutants that can be found in tap water.

Others argue that tap water is just as safe to drink as bottled water and that the cost of bottled water is simply too expensive, especially if you’re in the city.

Fresh clean tap water

Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference. If you think tap water in your location is safe and healthy to drink, you may do so. But if you prefer bottled water for convenience or health reasons, there’s no reason not to buy it.

Drinking tap water has benefits regardless of how it tastes, and you may want to switch to it if you can. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Tap water may be healthier. Bottled water can still contain harmful chemicals and pollutants that aren’t good for your health. Tap water that’s safe for drinking doesn’t usually contain these pollutants.
  • Tap water is cheaper. If you buy bottled water regularly, it will eventually add up in cost over time. Tap water is much cheaper than buying bottled water every day.
  • Tap water can taste better. Some people believe that tap water (even in Las Vegas) has a more refreshing taste than bottled water. This may be because many plastic bottles used for storing water contain chemicals that can make the drink taste unpleasant or metallic-like.

Although the drinking water straight out of the faucet in Vegas doesn’t taste great, you still need to stay hydrated, especially in the summertime. Drinking lots of water is necessary since Vegas is extremely hot.

I’ve discussed how hot the weather is in Vegas in the summer and how you can handle it here.

Las Vegas Water FAQs

Where Does Las Vegas Get Its Water?

There are a few different sources of water in Las Vegas, these include municipal water supply, groundwater resources, and recycled wastewater.

Las Vegas municipal water supply mainly comes from the Lake Mead reservoir (created by Hoover Dam). The Las Vegas Valley Water District also pumps small amounts of groundwater resources. Meanwhile, treated wastewater is used to water golf courses and agricultural land around Las Vegas Valley.

Is Las Vegas Water Fluoridated?

The water supply in Las Vegas naturally contains fluoride, and the community water is further fluoridated for optimum health benefits. Fluoridation is a process used to improve the quality of drinking water and prevent tooth decay. It’s typically done as part of municipal water treatment systems.

Does Las Vegas Have Hard Water?

According to tests, Las Vegas does have hard water, and it’s considered extremely hard. So, if you’re looking for a place with naturally occurring soft water, then Las Vegas may not be the best option. 

You’ll find high levels of calcium and magnesium ions in hard water. These ions are essential for the growth of aquatic plants and bacteria. These minerals also help to keep pipes free from corrosion, which can lead to leaks and other problems.

Why the Water Tastes So Bad in Las Vegas – Conclusion

If you’re ever in Las Vegas and find that the water tastes terrible, don’t be too alarmed. The city gets its water from different sources that contain various minerals and chemicals. While the water might taste bad at first, it’s safe to drink and can still be better than some lower-quality bottled water.

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