Columbia Water customers who are served from the Lake Murray Water Treatment Plant may have noticed an earthy smell or taste to their tap water recently. Plant operators are aware of the issue and are working to address it. While it is a nuisance, there are no safety issues with the water.
The cause of the odd smell and taste is naturally-occurring in Lake Murray during the summer months. It results from certain types of algae, fungi, and bacteria growing in the lake. As these organisms grow and multiply, they excrete small amounts of harmless compounds into the water that cause a musty, moldy, or earthy taste and odor.
The two most common compounds are geosmin and methylisoborneal (MIB). Although these compounds are harmless, the human senses of taste and smell are extremely sensitive to them and can detect them in the water at low concentrations.
Columbia Water has implemented several process modifications to reduce any objectionable smell and taste as much as possible. Geosmin and MIB cannot be removed from water using normal water treatment, so operators are using activated carbon to reduce their levels.
We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve the issue.