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Taylorsville Journal

Can You Detect A Musty Or Earthy Smell In Your Water?

Feb 06, 2015 02:56PM ● By City of Taylorsville
Taylorsville/Bennion Improvement District

Have you ever wondered why at times, water can have an unpleasant odor, taste or appearance?  This is the second of three articles that will address odor, taste and appearance that you may experience at your tap. These aesthetic characteristics usually do not pose a public health threat but may be noticed. 

An earthy or musty smell, particularly in warmer water, may be the result of an algal bloom in the surface water supply. Algae thrive at different times of the year in reservoirs. Although treatment plants are able to remove the algae, some of their metabolites may be left behind. The most common metabolite in our water supply is geosmin. Even though geosmin is harmless, the human senses of taste and smell are extremely sensitive to it and some individuals can detect it in water at concentrations as low as 5 parts per trillion. Other common odors you may occasionally notice in your tap water are fishy, grassy or marshy odors. These are also typically caused by a variety of compounds produced by different types of algae.

Water received by Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District is sampled on a regular basis by the supplier, Jordan Valley Water Conservation District, who measures the concentration of taste- and odor-causing compounds.

Water treatment plants typically utilize chemicals or adsorbents such as powdered activated carbon, potassium permanganate, or ozone to control taste and odor problems so that the water meets taste and odor standards outlined by state and federal regulations.

Be assured that in spite of occasional variations in taste or odor, your water meets the highest standards for drinking water. If you have any questions regarding this article or any other water topic, please contact Dan McDougal, water quality coordinator, at 801-968-9081. Taylorsville-Bennion Improvement District.        
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