Bizarre Events: Mumbai Sweet Water

Mahim Creek in Mumbai, India
Courtesy of Nicholas from Wikimedia Commons

On August 18, 2006, a bizarre phenomenon occurred in Mumbai, India. It is known as the Mumbai Sweet Seawater Incident. What was bizarre about it was not really the allegedly sweet seawater as there were a number of logical explanations for comparatively sweet seawater. The really bizarre aspect of the incident was the reaction.

Early on August 18, 2006, reports started to spread that Mahim Creek was delivering sweet water. That very same day, the same phenomenon was reported with ocean water in Gujarat. People flocked to Mahim Creek and the waters of Gujarat to collect this supposedly sweet water in containers. This was not so people could wash their clothes in Willy Wonka water. This was so they could drink it!

Some might think drinking some creek or even ocean water that suddenly turned sweet is not such a big deal. However, Mahim Creek is notoriously polluted. Not only is it inundated with industrial waste but it is also inundated with raw sewage. That is right. Fecal matter, urine and any number of unhealthy chemicals lurk in the water, no matter how sweet it is. In fact, it is known for having an awful stench. Besides, drinking seawater is a bad idea even if it is clean.

Luckily, there was not widespread cholera or other such waterborne disease epidemics. There is some speculation that the recent monsoon season not only purified the water, insomuch as such water can be purified, but that it also caused the sweet water. It may have also been a case of mass hysteria. Whatever the cause, drinking that water was surely a bizarre reaction. It makes one wonder who drank it first to discover it had turned sweet.