Here's Why Southwest RivCo Tap Water Tastes, Smells Musty and Earthy

Residents in Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar may all notice the odors, but Metropolitan Water District of Southern California stressed that the treated water is safe for consumers and that fish and wildlife will not be impacted.

Consumers in Southwest Riverside County may be noticing a musty taste and odor in their tap water, but it is an aesthetic problem caused by algae blooms and not a health hazard, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California says.

Officials at Metropolitan said the taste-and-odor situation may improve by the end of the week, as the district isolated the affected facilities and treated supplies over the weekend. In the meantime, they said, the drinking water impacts will continue to vary as local agencies blend imported Metropolitan water with local supplies.

"The earthy taste and smell stem from an algae bloom in Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet in southwest Riverside County, which is affecting supplies being delivered to the San Diego County Water Authority," said Jim Green, Metropolitan's manager of water system operations.

People who get their water through the Eastern Municipal Water District or the Western Municipal Water District may also notice the difference in water, Green told Patch Tuesday.  

An alert had initially just been placed for San Diego County, but was expanded into Southwest Riverside County Tuesday, he said.

"Consumers, however, can be assured that the taste-and-odor issues they may be experiencing in their tap water do not pose any health risks," he said. "Consumers affected by this situation may consider refrigerating their tap water to help improve its taste until the problem diminishes."

Over the weekend, Metropolitan isolated Diamond Valley Lake and treated the algae bloom, which also has impacted untreated supplies in nearby Lake Skinner. Diamond Valley Lake and Lake Skinner are currently providing raw water to SDCWA.

MWD stressed that the treated water is safe for consumers and that fish and wildlife will not be impacted.

Growth of algae in open surface reservoirs is generally a seasonal problem that usually occurs in warm months. As in previous years, the cause of this year's taste-and-odor episode has been identified as geosmin, a nuisance compound produced from the growth of certain algae in freshwaters throughout the world, according to Green.

"Unfortunately, people with sensitive taste and smell can detect the compound in water at levels as low as 5 parts-per-trillion," he said. "By comparison, one part-per-trillion is equivalent to just 10 drops of geosmin in enough water to fill the Rose Bowl."

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Can you taste the algae? Tell us in the comment section below.

Rae Anne Resident May 14, 2014 at 01:06 PM
This kinda thing only proves all the more that we need to electure Hestrin to be are new DA. Zellerbag has alloud are water to get pollutered and we must take action. vote Hestrin on june 3.
Ken May 14, 2014 at 01:13 PM
The water smells like sh*t because some of the local politicians have been swimming in it at Diamond Valley Lake and cesspool
Michael May 14, 2014 at 02:46 PM
Prior to reading this article I had a concern and called the water department. I had partially filled (2/3) my pool last Thursday - the water was a sickly green color! They claimed the color change was a reaction between chlorine and organic compounds in our existing pool water (which was crystal clear and clean before adding TAP water!!!). A gallon of chlorine and a pool shock to get it clear again. I no longer drink our water and YES an investigation by somebody should be started - their job is to keep it clean - not wait for reports of a problem!!!
all-c-ing-eye May 14, 2014 at 03:44 PM
And the politicians will say as they lay back in their easy chairs, let the masses bitch and moan nothings going to change and they cant do anything anyway, oh by the way this is an appointed position isnt it? ha ha ha. Of course just before election we will sweet talk those people, they always go for that ha ha ha. Now i ask you, How long has the water been bad out here in Murrieta? oh really that long? and its getting worse you say? Soon you may need bottled water just to take a shower. I have been here for a bit over 2 years and i cant believe how the population here gets suckered in to believing what is told to them by the authorities. The only thing i saw here that angered people enough were those accursed red light cameras that was nothing more than a trap. If that ticked you off enough so should this p-ss water we get from Rancho Water.


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