Common Water Quality Taste and Odour Issues

Variations to water quality can occur from time to time due to a variety of factors.  

Sometimes customers may notice a short period where the water has a different taste or smell.  The FAQ’s below help to explain why that is.    



  • Is the water safe to drink?

    The water is safe to drink. Sometimes not all of the Geosmin or MIB can be removed within the treatment process, however, this is a purely aesthetic issue and meets the health parameters set by the Australian Drinking Water guidelines.

  • Why does Icon Water add chlorine and how does Icon Water ensure the water is safe for consumption?

    • Chlorine is added to Canberra’s water at a concentration sufficient to disinfect the water leaving the WTPs and to provide a chlorine residual that will continue to protect against contamination in the distribution system

    • Icon Water conduct operational testing and continuous online monitoring at our water treatment plants to ensure that water is within specification and safe to drink according to the requirements of ACT Health

    • In addition, Icon Water conducts an extensive water quality monitoring program from the catchment, at our WTPs and throughout the drinking water network to ensure the water supply is within specification. This is conducted by a NATA-accredited, independent laboratory

    • More information about how Icon Water manages drinking water supply and the drinking water monitoring program is available within the Annual Drinking Water Report.

  • Why can I detect chlorine taste and odours?

    • Some customers may be sensitive to the taste or smell of chlorine at or below the aesthetic guideline level

    • The chlorine concentration is generally low (less than 1 part per million) and can be reduced further by either:

    • allowing water to stand in a covered container for a short period of time;
    • letting water sit in the fridge, or;
    • adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to the water

  • Why can I detect earthy/musty taste and odours?

    • The earthy smell and taste are due to natural compounds in the source water, Geosmin and 2-Methylisoborneol (MIB), which are more likely to be present over warmer months 

    • Some people can smell and taste these compounds at very low concentrations (as low as 10 parts-per-trillion) but the concentration is usually below this range