Stinky Water Coming From Some San Diego Taps Isn't Harmful, City Says

Biologists say an algal bloom has tarnished Lake Murray

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Too many San Diegans smelled something funky last week when they turned on their water faucets. Turns out there was something funky growing in nearby Lake Murray Reservoir.

Biologist Peter Vroom, Ph.D. with the city’s Public Utilities Department said an algal bloom formed in the lake after the weather turned warm for a sustained period of time.

“That algae produces something called 2-methylsiborneol, or MIB, which tastes horrible,” said Dr. Vroom. “It has a really earthy flavor to it.”

MIB is one of the hardest things to remove during the water treatment process before it is piped to homes and businesses, according to Dr. Vroom.

Vroom said the city tests its reservoirs for these issues every week, and said the naturally-forming MIB is not going to hurt anyone.

“No, it’s not toxic and there’s no health effects to humans or animals,” said Vroom.

Even though it is harmless, the city of San Diego stopped pumping water from Lake Murray into the Alvarado Water Treatment Plant until the bloom goes away.

“Instead, we’re relying on water from the California aqueduct,” explained Vroom.

The biologist said the last time something similar happened in a San Diego reservoir was in 2018, also at Lake Murray.

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