Taste & Odor

Taste and Odor in Drinking Water

Periodically, water purveyors across the world have issues with tastes and odors in their drinking water. Most taste and odor issues can be attributed to variations in the source-water quality. Factors such as seasonal lake turn-over, variations in rainfall, sunlight, and algae growth can contribute to changes in source-water quality.

The two main taste and odor constituents in lake water, geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol ( also called MIB), are produced by blue-green algae and actinomycetes.

Geosmin from the Greek words Geos (meaning earth) and osme (meaning odor).

Generally MIB and geosmin cause odors that smell like dirt, freshly plowed earth, beets, or mud, but not all people are sensitive to the resulting odor. In fact, beets receive their odor from geosmin and people either hate beets or love beets.

MIB and geosmin are typically removed from drinking water in water treatment plants through the addition of powdered activated carbon (PAC) or strong oxidants.

Periodically, Cumming Utilities determines that the levels of geosmin and MIB in Lake Lanier have risen and are affecting the quality of our raw water supply. Once we make this determination, we utilize powdered activated carbon to help remove these taste and odor causing constituents.

Please keep in mind that taste and odor issues, while unpleasant at times,  have no effect on the safety of your drinking water.