FAQ / Earthy tasting or smelling water

Earthy tasting or smelling water

Checking your water

  • Check if you have an internal plumbing issue.
  • Try tasting water from different taps both inside and outside your house.
  • If the poor taste is coming from an isolated tap try unscrewing the cylinder at the end of the tap and cleaning it thoroughly before replacing it.
  • If you have a header tank sediment at the bottom of the tank may have been stirred up and the tank may need cleaning.
  • Make sure that any hose tap is turned off at the house end. A hose tap left on at the house end but turned off at the hose end could back-feed warm water into your house supply.
  • If the service pipe from the toby (supply valve) is not buried underground, warm water may be coming into your house. Some plastic pipes can cause taste issues as they heat up.

If your water is tasting or smelling earthy but shows no discolouration, cool your water in a jug for 30 minutes as this may improve the taste.

Higher flows in the pipeline from increased water usage can sometimes stir up sediment in the pipes. If your water is discoloured or contains sediment then the pipeline in your street may need flushing for 10 minutes to ensure that stale water is cleared.

If all water sources in your house have the same unpleasant taste then the problem may stem from your public supply.

Environmental Factors

Poor tasting water can also be caused by environmental factors such as Geosmin (a type of non-toxic algae) which is more prevalent in the summer months and grows on the surface of bodies of water, such as lakes and reservoirs.

Wellington’s water is supplied by the WainuiomataWaterloo and Te Marua Water Treatment Plants. The Te Marua Plant can occasionally have higher levels of Geosmin, especially if we are using the storage lakes to supplement the river supply.

We do treat the lake water to reduce the levels of Geosmin, but some people are more sensitive to the earthy taste it creates and can notice it at very low levels. We also regularly sample water from your area every few days to ensure that there are no harmful bacteria in the water and that it complies with the drinking water standards.

Please note there is no link between the algae in the Hutt River and the earthy water taste from the Orongorongo river.

The water we collect from the Hutt River is taken above the section of the river where toxic algae has been identified. We have tested our river supply and there is no algae present.