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Taste and Odor Workgroup

Taste and odor events impact drinking water reservoirs throughout the state. Cyanobacteria are most often associated with taste and odor events because several species are known to produce chemical compounds (i.e. geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol-MIB) that cause drinking water to taste and smell bad. Therefore, understanding what environmental factors impact the abundances of these organisms, and how they influence specific taste and odor events, are important management priorities.

The State Water Plan Fund at the Kansas Water Office funded the Kansas Biological Survey to study taste and odor events in Kansas reservoirs. In an attempt to develop relatively simple tools that can be used to predict the occurrence of taste and odor events, KBS used a number of complimentary approaches included newly collected reservoir data, previously collected data from research units and treatment plants, and remotely sensed data. See larger project for more project details.

The Taste and Odor Workgroup was created to help translate the results from our research into usable treatment strategies. The workgroup consists of scientists and representatives from university, state and federal agencies and water treatment facilities.


Strategies and tools for managing taste and odor in Kansas reservoirs: Click here to download a document that summarizes the below resources.

Published article: Dzialowski, A. R., V. H. Smith, D. G. Huggins, F. deNoyelles, N. C. Lim, D. S. Baker, and J. Beury. 2009. Development of Predictive Models for Geosmin-Related Taste and Odor in Kansas, USA, Drinking Water Reservoirs. Water Research 43 (2009) 2829-2840.

Huggins 2008 presentation (3.5kb pps) :

Final report: Dzialowski, A.R., D.G. Huggins, J. deNoyelles, M. Jakubauskas, N.C. Lim, and J. Beury. 2007. Predicting Taste and Odor Events in Kansas Reservoirs - Phase 1. Open-file Report No. 143. Version 1. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, KS. 62 pp.

Geosmin Predictions Models: Click here to download the Geosmin Prediction Models (xls). Preliminary models were developed for the Kansas Water Office to estimate Geosmin in five reservoirs in Kansas: Big Hill Reservoir, Cheney Reservoir, Marion Lake, Clinton Lake, and Gardner Lake. Each worksheet in this file corresponds to one of these reservoirs.

Database: Click here to download the MSAccess database (1172kb).

Workgroup meetings

  • July 21, 2006: The workgroup held its first meeting on July 21 at the Kansas Biological Survey. The purpose of this meeting was to provide an overview of the project and establish the workgroup goals and objectives. Presentations from the meeting (project overview and initial data, remote sensing) are available. Data will be available soon.
  • November 3, 2006: The workgroup held its second meeting on November 3 at the Kansas Biological Survey. Meeting notes are posted.
  • April 25, 2007: The workgroup held its second meeting on April 25 at the Kansas Biological Survey. Meeting notes are posted.


How you can help

Water treatment personnel: The participation of water treatment personnel is indispensable to the overall success of this project. There are two ways in which we are requesting your help.

First, we ask that you inform us of taste and odor events in your drinking water reservoirs immediately so that we can collect samples in an attempt to understand the conditions that allow them to develop.

Second, we are requesting any previously collected data from your drinking water reservoir. Past observations are important with respect to the frequency, severity and duration of taste and odor events. We are also requesting any parallel water quality (i.e. nutrients, algal biomass as measured by chlorophyll a, geosmin) measurements that may have been collected during these events.

Local and regional scientists: We are compiling previously collected data from reservoirs throughout the region. In particular, we are requesting any available taste and odor (e.g. geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB)) and associated water quality data. We are creating a database that will be used to try and develop relatively simple models for predicting taste and odor events. Any taste and odor compound data would be useful.

Please send all data or inquiries to Debbie Baker at dbaker@ku.edu