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Jul 10

Fighting the "earthy-musty" taste

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 3:54 PM by Jenny Craft

Each Spring, Charleston Water System’s water develops what’s most often described as an "earthy" or "musty" taste and smell.

If you were here in the spring and summer of 2012, you probably recall that we had a severe episode that year.

The earthy-musty taste and odor is caused by warm temperatures and increased sunlight, which promote algae growth and water turnover in our primary water supply, the Bushy Park Reservoir.

This natural process produces harmless but unpleasant tasting and smelling compounds (MIB and Geosmin) that can be detected by the human nose at very small levels.

Last year, we made improvements at our treatment plant to be able to better remove these nuisance compounds by adding more powdered activated carbon, and our plant and laboratory staff carefully track changes to our source water in order to adjust the treatment process as needed. 

So far, these improvements seem to have kept the earthy-musty taste and odor issue at bay!

Tracking earthy-musty compounds in our source water
Chemist Lori Cowden prepares water samples used to track MIB-Geosmin levels in our source water and water flowing through the plant. The results help our plant staff to continually adjust the treatment process to remove the harmless but stinky algal compounds.


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