Some water customers in North Richland Hills have noticed changes in the taste and odor of their drinking water recently. This is because of an increase in geosmin, a compound that is naturally occurring in the water supply. Geosmin has an earthy or musty odor and is naturally present in some foods such as beets, spinach and mushrooms. Geosmin, even at low levels, can be detected by people. While the taste and odor can be unpleasant, geosmin is non-toxic and safe to consume.
Heating your water increases the release of geosmin compounds, which explains why the smell is more easily detected when in the shower or when used for hot beverages. Chilling your water may make the geosmin less detectable.
According to the Trinity River Authority (TRA), which supplies water to the City of North Richland Hills, it is a normal occurrence for there to be an increase in geosmin in area lakes during winter months. The temperature of the lakes plays a key role in favoring algae populations that produce geosmin. From past observations, geosmin concentrations are highest after the lake temperature is below 50ºF. Changes in water taste and odor were detected in early December and again after February's record cold weather.
TRA is monitoring the situation and making adjustments where they can to their treatment processes to try to mitigate the increase in geosmin levels.
Trinity River Authority Taste and Odor Notice