Change in water taste

July 27, 2022

Some members of our community have told us the taste of their drinking water has changed. 

We want to reassure Canberrans that the water we supply from our network is safe to drink. We have gathered some information to help understand what is happening.

What is affecting the taste of my drinking water?
The change in taste some people can detect in their drinking water is due to a natural component, 2-Methylisoborneol, or MIB, which can be found in water reserves across Australia. MIB does not make the water unsafe to drink, however some people can smell and taste this compound even if it is detected at very low levels.

Where does MIB come from?
MIB can come from many environmental sources. We believe the increased concentration of MIB is associated with a natural event that has occurred in our water catchment. De-stratification, which is a seasonal event occurring in cooler periods, has occurred, and we believe sediment containing MIB from the bottom layers of the reservoir has mixed through the reservoir.

This current change is occurring due to a natural occurrence, and there is no evidence of an algal bloom occurring in the source water supplying raw water to Stromlo Water Treatment Plant for treatment.

What is de-stratification?
During warmer periods, large bodies of water tend to have separate layers, where the top layer of the water body remains warm and the bottom layers are progressively cooler. During winter periods, we often see the top layers become cooler and the layers mix with one another as they all reach the same temperature. This mixing process is termed de-stratification.

How long is it going to take to go back to normal?
We’re working with nature, which makes it hard to give a timeline for when the smell and taste will become less noticeable. We appreciate the community’s understanding as this change in taste naturally reduces.

We are currently monitoring the event with increased analysis of the water via an external NATA-accredited laboratory, to continue verifying the quality of the water

I can’t taste anything different, is something wrong with me?
Not everyone will detect MIB in drinking water. These compounds are typically present at a level that isn’t noticeable, however there are some people who can smell and taste them even at low levels.

Is there anything I can do to change the taste of my water?
People who want to change the taste of their drinking water can add a bit of lemon or mint or stand a jug in the fridge for a bit before drinking.