If the water tastes or smells a little funny, don’t be alarmed.

Nearly every year about this time, the City of Sacramento starts receiving reports of an earthy or musty taste to the water. It’s the result of naturally occurring bacteria in the Sacramento and American River waters. The water is safe to drink.

The bacteria is removed by our treatment process, but two compounds (geosmin and MIB) remain that cause the taste and odor that may be unpleasant, but is harmless.

This happens almost every year during the summer because of a combination of factors including high temperatures, lower water levels and the presence of key nutrients. As the temperatures start to cool the taste and odor will disappear.

The taste and smell isn’t obvious to everyone, but if you find it unpleasant, chill the water or add lemon juice prior to drinking.