Amid complaints about “an earthy or musty taste and odor,” OWASA says its water is safe to drink.
According to a news release from the town of Carrboro, the smelly water, which “several dozen customers” have complained about in the past week, is being caused by algae growing in the Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake.
“Although OWASA’s treatment process removes algae, some organic compounds may remain in the drinking water that can cause earthy or musty taste and odor,” the statement says.
To correct the issue, OWASA has made treatment changes, including using more powdered activated carbon, which is commonly used for this purpose.
“Treated water leaving OWASA’s Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro has returned to near normal taste and odor quality, but some water with taste and odor still remains in OWASA’s network of 380 miles of drinking water pipes and its water storage tanks,” the statement says. “As fresh water from the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant moves through the system, taste and odor should continue to improve in coming days.”
OWASA has had a rough time over the past four months. In February, a water main break and an overflow of fluoride into the water supply caused the authority to shut down its treatment plant, prompting a water shortage throughout Orange County. After an independent investigation, OWASA explained the fluoride overflow was the result of human error: a plant operator had accidentally instructed a fluoride pump to increase its feed rate about tenfold.
OWASA has temporarily stopped fluoridation of its water (which is done to prevent tooth decay) but plans to reintroduce it in the fall after improving the feed system.