Why does my water taste earthy?

The recent rain combined with warm temperatures has contributed to a temporary increase in the naturally occurring compounds in the raw water supply entering Seqwater’s Mount Crosby Water Treatment Plant.

While most of us enjoy that earthy smell during and after it rains, it’s usually a surprise to experience it in our drinking water.

Natural compounds called Geosmin (pronounced gee-OZ-mihn) and Methylisoborneol, which is better known as MIB (pronounced Methy-liso-borneol) that are responsible for that ‘rain smell’ can also make our water taste and smell earthy.

Increased levels of these naturally occurring compounds in the raw water supply can occur during the warmer months, though they’re higher than usual at the moment due to the recent weather conditions.

While these compounds are harmless and safe to consume, sensitivity to taste and odour varies from person to person, so some people may not notice any change while others may.

Are the earthy compounds safe to drink?

Absolutely. Both Geosmin and MIB are harmless and while they can produce an earthy taste and odour, they don’t pose any risk to your health. The effects of Geosmin and MIB are only aesthetic.

Our drinking water supply is constantly monitored and tested to meet the health requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

What are the effects of Geosmin and MIB?

Geosmin and MIB produce a musty, earthy smell and taste in drinking water, however neither compound is harmful to consume.

What causes increased levels of Geosmin and MIB?

These organic compounds usually exist in low numbers, but the presence of sufficient nutrients, warm temperatures and high levels of sunlight, together with calm waters, can increase their levels.

When will the taste and odour of my water return to usual?

Seqwater, our bulk water supplier, is taking action to return the water to its usual taste and odour as quickly as possible, by making additional release from Wivenhoe Dam and using the SEQ Water Grid to move water around the region. We’re working closely with Seqwater so we can keep our customers updated.

The levels of these compounds in the raw water supply can fluctuate during the warmer months, so the weather conditions over summer will influence any change.

Fruit in water

A temporary solution to improve the taste and reduce odours

  • Chill water in the fridge – the cold water will make your taste buds less receptive.
  • Add lemon or fruit wedges (such as orange, cucumber or watermelon) to help with taste and odour.