Taste and Odor

To City of Gainesville Drinking Water Customers;

When it comes to taste and odor, the reports are usually that the water has an “earthy” taste and odor.  This is an aesthetic issue and not a health issue.  We test the water at every step of the treatment process, and all of the results indicate that the water is safe to drink and for all other uses.

During this time of year, Lake Lanier can experience a “Lake Turnover.”  During these events, which are prompted by a change in the air temperature, the lake experiences an inversion of the surface water and deeper water.  This can cause a taste/odor event. 

Please know we are aware of the issue and, as a result, are optimizing the treatment processes at our Lakeside Water Treatment plant to combat this.  For example, we are increasing the frequency of our filter washes.  We are also optimizing our chemical treatment processes as much as possible to improve the situation. 

The taste and odor issue will pass soon, as the inversion of the surface water is complete.  We appreciate your patience!

City of Gainesville Department of Water Resources


Q: What is DWR actively doing to address this issue?

A: Your Department of Water Resources plant operators and lab personnel monitor your water quality, including taste and odor, constantly on a daily basis. With recent reports of taste and odor, these efforts have increased. Our plant operators are optimizing our plants' chemical feed systems, washing filters more often and working with our lab personnel to test at an increased frequency. Additionally, we are decreasing the amount of raw water withdrawn at Lakeside Water Treatment Facility from Lake Lanier on the south end of the county. We are increasing the withdrawl on the north end, pulling from deeper depths, and adding more Activated Carbon to reduce taste and odor-causing compounds.


Q: What is lake turnover?

A: Lake turnover typically occurs during Spring and Fall. During the fall, the warm surface water begins to cool. As water cools, it becomes more dense, causing it to sink. This dense water forces the water of the lower level of the lake to rise and switch places with the top levels, "turning over" the layers. 

Lake Turnover