Halifax water has different smell and taste — despite looking normal

If you’re a Halifax Water customer and have noticed a different smell or taste lately — you’re not alone.

“It has this different taste from the normal water,” saus Oluwaseun Tope, a Bedford resident says she started using a water purifier after noticing her water tasted different. “I think I will continue for some time. Maybe after the winter, next summer, we’ll see if there are improvements.”

Halifax Water says some residents may be noticing an earthy, musty-type odour or taste in their water recently.

It’s caused by geosmin in the Pockwock water supply.

“It’s just for customers who are served by Pockwock,” said James Campbellof Halifax Water. “So that would be Halifax, Bedford, Sackville, Waverley, Timberlea and Fall River. If you’re on the Dartmouth Lake Major water supply, it’s not an issue for you. It’s really just in the Pockwock water supply.”

Geosmin is a naturally occurring compound.

Halifax Water says it won’t impact all customers — and not everyone will detect it.

“It’s not at all harmful, it’s perfectly natural so, if you eat beets or mushrooms or spinach, you’ll get that same kind of smell and that’s what it is, it’s geosmin,” said Campbell. “If you’re a gardener and you turn over rich soil and you get that kind of refreshing whiff, that’s exactly what it is.”

Officials don’t know exactly why geosmin happens.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research since we first had it in 2012, so we’re not really sure why it’s happening,” Campbell said. “It seems to occur when we have a hot dry summer and kind of a wet fall, which is what we had this year.”

It’s unclear how long geosmin may stay in the water supply.

The last time it was detected in 2017, it lasted for a few months.