Close-up of faucet with turned drop water

Raleigh Water Safe to Drink; Taste and Odor Reported

The water is safe to drink and use for all purposes

Pockets of Raleigh Water customers have reported issues with a musty smell or taste in their water. The water is safe to drink and use for all purposes. This is a springtime occurrence and Raleigh Water is working to treat the water to remove this taste and smell.  

Following are answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding this issue: 

Is the water safe to drink?
Yes. The taste and odor are purely an aesthetic issue. The City of Raleigh’s water remains completely safe to drink and use for all purposes. All of our drinking water continues to surpass all regulatory standards for safety. 

What’s causing the smell and taste? 
 The City of Raleigh’s water system is supplied by 2 lakes, Falls Lake, and Lake Benson. In the past 24 hours we have experienced an increase in calls related to taste and odor in the tap water. Falls Lake is currently going through seasonal variations caused by factors such as temperature and available sunlight. These seasonal variations in environmental conditions can lead to fluctuations in naturally occurring algae and algal activity. 
Commonly occurring algae in Falls Lake can impact water quality in a variety of ways. One-way algal impacts are most notable to water customers is unpleasant taste and odor. Under certain seasonal environmental conditions, algae can release taste and odor compounds into the water that have the potential to be noticed at the customer’s tap. Customers typically characterize the unpleasant taste and odor as “earthy," or “musty." These variations most commonly occur in the early spring and fall time periods. 

What steps is the City of Raleigh taking to control the taste and odor?
It is our goal to produce high quality drinking water that is not only safe to drink but is aesthetically pleasing as well. We closely monitor our source water for algae and taste and odor compounds and utilize treatment techniques such as activated carbon adsorption and advanced oxidation by ozone to minimize the unpleasant taste and odors. Activated Carbon and Ozone have been increased to address these aesthetic issues, but it may take a few days to purge the distribution system. The time it takes for the taste and odor of the water to improve varies from household to household and is impacted by the fact that our drinking water has to work its way through the water distribution system, which contains over 2500 miles of water lines.  

What steps can be taken at home by customers to minimize the taste and odor? Some customers have reported improved taste and odor by adding a lemon wedge to a refrigerated open pitcher of drinking water. Additionally, standard home water filtration systems that contain fresh carbon may help to mitigate the taste and odor of these substances.


Lead Department: