Murky, bad-smelling water may be making some Rio de Janeiro residents sick.
Neighborhoods around Rio and six nearby towns have been affected by the dirty water pouring from their taps for almost two weeks.
The city’s publicly-owned water company, CEDAE, says the organic compound geosmin is behind the dirty water, and insists it is safe to drink.
But The Guardian reports, people have been getting sick for days, complaining of fevers and diarrhea after drinking the water.
CEDAE has now fired the manager of the treatment station that supplies most of Rio’s water.
The Guardian quotes Sérgio Marques, quality control manager for CEDAE, as saying there is enough geosmin in the water to change the taste.
While it's possible summer rains could have washed soil into rivers, causing the increase of geosmin, biologists say it could also have come from algae that live in polluted water.
The governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Wilson Witzel, has demanded a “rigorous investigation” into water quality and water company management.
Meanwhile, Rio police are investigating the situation, questioning CEDAE staff to determine whether employees or a possible third party committed a crime that resulted in the tainted water.