Why the water in California’s capital stinks right now
The odd taste and odor of Sacramento’s water is due to a harmless compound fueled by the drought
The water district of Sacramento, California, has always fielded calls from concerned residents reporting a weird taste and odor in the water coming out of their taps. A naturally occurring compound called geosmin can give the water an earthy taste when water levels are low and temperatures are high.
The water isn’t dangerous, but it is stinky. Typically the complaint calls don’t start until autumn or late summer. But this year is different, thanks to a worsening drought that has hit the region hard.
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