Geosmin in tap water in parts of Cape Town poses no danger - City

2019-02-19 20:09
(Supplied)

(Supplied)

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If you're in Cape Town and your water has a delicate aroma of beetroot, or summer rain, it is because it contains small amounts of a natural organism called geosmin.

According to a statement issued by the municipality, the taste that some may detect is due to higher than usual levels of geosmin in raw water coming from one of the city's feeder dams, the once almost empty Theewaterskloof.

This means water supplied from the Blackheath water treatment plant to the central and south-eastern parts of the City of Cape Town is affected by the before-the-rain smell that is also known as "petrichor". 

"It must be emphasised that geosmin poses no threat to human health," said Xanthea Limberg, the mayoral committee member for water and sanitation. 

"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."

She explained that it can be found in water during hot weather, and a few parts per trillion can be detected by the human palate.  

The water is being dosed with powdered activated carbon at the moment to reduce the effect of geosmin, but it may take a while for the taste and smell to normalise.

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Read more on:    cape town  |  drought  |  water
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