Drinking Water Taste and Smell

CITY OF HOUSTON  |  HOUSTON WATER

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - Drinking Water Taste and Smell

WHY HAS THE DRINKING WATER’S TASTE AND SMELL CHANGED?

The change in the taste and smell of Houston’s drinking water is caused by byproducts of a naturally occurring algae bloom in our lakes called geosmin and MIB (2-methyl isoborneol). Houston’s main drinking water system recieves 85% of its water from the San Jacinto River (Lake Conroe & Lake Houston) and the Trinity River (Lake Livingston). Lakes often see an increase in algae blooms when there is warmth and direct sunlight.

WHAT IS GEOSMIN AND MIB?

Geosmin and MIB are naturally-occurring compounds and are not harmful, but can give the water a musty, earthy, or fishy taste and smell.

IS THE WATER QUALITY AFFECTED?

The City’s drinking water continues to meet or exceed ALL Federal and State standards and is SAFE. Water experts will continue to monitor and test the water.

HOW LONG WILL THE TASTE AND ODOR LAST?

The algae bloom is a seasonal event. Since geosmin and MIB are naturally-occurring, they will diminish in the water supply with time and weather changes.

CAN THE TASTE AND SMELL BE REDUCED AT HOME?

To make the water taste better, try chilling it, adding ice cubes, a slice of lemon, or a few drops of lemon juice. Additionally, home water filtration systems that contain carbon may help.

If you have concerns about the quality of your water, please call 311.