Musty odor reported, explained in Friendswood water

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A mysterious odor detected in some residential and business drinking water in Friendswood has been solved by its source.

The City of Friendswood along with neighboring municipalities who receive water from the Southeast Water Purification Plant have been notified that the potable water from the Trinity River via the purification plant has increased levels of two compounds, Geosmin and MIB.

Both are naturally occurring compounds that cause musty or earthy type odors and tastes but are not a health or safety concern.

Both Geosmin and MIB have extremely low odor thresholds to humans. Often during the summer months, water systems that depend upon surface water sources will experience complaints from consumers regarding taste and odor which can be directly attributed to the two compounds, according to a report posted on the city website.

The two originate primarily from algae and bacteria and can increase based upon various food sources of organic material, the report states. Current treatment includes the use of activated carbon, sand filters with biological active colonies, and ozone treatment.

Utilities across the country perform thorough chemical and biological testing to ensure that their product meets primary drinking water standards established by regulatory agencies. Secondary standards relating to the aesthetic quality of drinking water are not mandated, but are often a source of consumer complaints when they are exceeded, the report states.

The water purification plants continue to study their formation, measurement, and removal to improve aesthetic drinking water quality.

The increased levels of Geosmin and MIB should naturally return to the usual, insignificantly low levels in approximately two weeks and then the smell will be gone, according to city officials.

The detailed explanation of Geosmin and MIB is posted on at

Any questions regarding water in Friendswood can be sent to Michael Haley, Water/Wastewater Operations Superintendent at the City of Friendswood at [email protected]

Story by Karolyn Gephart

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