Irish Water is aware of a number of recent complaints in relation to the odour and taste of drinking water supplied from the Reservoir

Irish Water is aware of a number of recent complaints from customers in relation to the odour and taste of drinking water supplied from the Ballyboden Reservoir.  This reservoir is an uncovered treated water reservoir and there is a project currently underway on-site to deliver a covered reservoir by Q1 2018.

The sampling results indicate the presence of very low levels of an organic compound called Geosmin. It can result in some people detecting a slightly earthy taste or odour from their drinking water.  According to the World Health Organisation in their Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality geosmin has ‘aesthetic concerns, not public health issues’.

The HSE have been consulted on this issue and the measures have been put in place to address it including:

  • Increased sampling and visual inspections
  • Increased bird control and monitoring
  • Additional drainage
  • Increased dust control and monitoring

The EPA also audited the reservoir at Ballyboden on 23 August and are satisfied with the actions and monitoring in place to address this current taste and odour issue and that there is no immediate risk to water quality.

Irish Water therefore can confirm that the treated water at Ballyboden complies with the Drinking Water Regulations. We have increased our normal water quality sampling programme as a precaution to keep the situation under close review.

Further information on drinking water quality can be found in our drinking water quality section.

Any customers with queries or concerns about the quality of their drinking water should contact us on 1850 278 278.

What does Geosmin smell like?
Geosmin typically produces an earthy or musty odour as is found in the odour of overturned rich soils, and is present in some foods such as beets, spinach, and mushrooms.

Why do we smell it?
The human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin. If you poured a teaspoon of geosmin into the equivalent of 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools, you would still be able to smell it. Heating the water, with showering or boiling water makes the smell more easily detected.

How long will the taste and odour last?
It is extremely difficult to predict the onset of an incidence of geosmin, or how long it will last.

Irish Water have arranged regular testing of the water supplied from the Ballyboden reservoir for geosmin and for various water quality parameters.

Can the taste and odour be reduced at the tap?
To make the water taste better, try chilling it, adding ice cubes, a slice of lemon, or a few drops of lemon juice.

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