Temporary Taste, Odor Issues With Drinking Water Linked to Algae in Lake Arlington
By Traci Peterson
Posted on February 08, 2017, February 08, 2017

Odor Issues With Drinking Water

UPDATE 3 p.m. 3/6/2017 - Arlington Water Utilities has completed planned upgrades to its ozone disinfection system at the John F. Kubala and Pierce-Burch Treatment Plants. The Kubala plant was placed back in service late last week, after one month offline. The Kubala plant receives its water from reservoirs in east Texas, which have not experienced the same high level of seasonal organic activity experienced in Lake Arlington in February. The Kubala plant is now providing water for all Arlington residents. The City anticipates this change in source of untreated water will relieve recent taste and odor issues.

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Arlington residents may notice a slight change in the taste or odor of their water this month, which is caused by a byproduct of algae in Lake Arlington called geosmin. Geosmin is not a harmful compound. However, it does add a musty or soil-like taste and odor into the water, even at very low concentrations.

Arlington water continues to meet all federal and state quality regulations. It is safe to drink. The algal activity is a seasonal event and is expected to pass within weeks.

Geosmin occurs in naturally-occurring blue green algae found in all North Texas reservoirs. When water temperatures fluctuate, particularly when the water temperature cools, these algae can die off very quickly. They then release the taste and odor compound into the water. This in turn makes it into water treatment plant when water is pumped from Lake Arlington.

Arlington's Pierce-Burch Treatment Plant draws water from Lake Arlington, while the John F. Kubala Treatment Plant gets water through a pipeline from east Texas reservoirs. Arlington monitors source water from Lake Arlington for geosmin when it is expected to be present, generally in late winter.

"In the past few years, Arlington Water has been able to avoid the natural organic activity in Lake Arlington by operating our John F. Kubala treatment facility while we perform winter-time maintenance at the Pierce Burch treatment facility, during our low demand part of the year," said Arlington Water Utilities Director Buzz Pishkur. "This year, however, the Pierce Burch facility is operating to facilitate a major upgrade of the disinfection equipment at the Kubala plant. We continue to monitor water for any health issues and we can verify that none exist."

Geosmin can be detected by some individuals at very low levels.

Arlington Water has a very sophisticated water treatment method for taste and odor compound removal utilizing ozone and biological filtration. In the past week, city personnel have made adjustments to the water treatment process by increasing the ozone dose and slowing the treatment process to facilitate more efficient taste and odor removal.

The current taste and odor situation is expected to be of short duration. All of the Arlington's quality tests indicate the water is meeting and, in most cases, surpassing water quality standards and is safe to use for any purpose.

If a customer has a concern about the quality of their water, they can call the City's water quality Laboratory at (817) 575-8984 or Arlington Water Utilities Customer Care at 817-275-5931.

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