Cape Town's 'earthy-tasting' water is safe to drink, says city

24 December 2019 - 11:13 By TimesLIVE
The City of Cape Town attributed the taste to 'high levels of geosmin in our raw water supply from the Voëlvlei Dam'.
The City of Cape Town attributed the taste to 'high levels of geosmin in our raw water supply from the Voëlvlei Dam'.
Image: 123rf.com/Chayapon Bootboonneam

Residents who have detected an “earthy taste” in their tap water are assured by the City of Cape Town that it is safe to drink.

“We are currently experiencing high levels of geosmin in our raw water supply from the Voëlvlei Dam,” the metro said in a statement.

“This is currently affecting the taste and smell of the water supplied from the Voëlvlei water treatment plant to the western areas of Cape Town.”

Initial reports were received from residents in the Parklands and Sunningdale areas.

The city said it is currently adding powdered activated carbon during the water treatment process to reduce the effect of the geosmin. “However,” the city added, “it may take some time for the taste and smell of the water to normalise.”

“It must be emphasised that geosmin poses no threat to human health. It is a naturally occurring organic compound and is responsible for the earthy taste of beetroot and the scent that occurs in the air when rain falls after a dry spell.”

The compound is sometimes present in water, particularly during periods of hot weather, and even minute concentrations of a few parts per trillion can be detected by the human palate, it said.


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