For the second time in two weeks, Orange Water and Sewer Authority has issued a statement reassuring residents in southern Orange County that the water is safe.
The concern has come from the water’s “earthy” or “musty” odor and taste that has developed over the last month.
OWASA officials say the issue is being caused by algae in the Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake. The treatment process used by OWASA removes algae from the drinking water but some organic compounds may remain – causing the unusual taste and odor.
The variance is so significant that OWASA reported in a release last Thursday that more than 150 customers had called the organization reporting the taste and odor since May 12.
Kenneth Loflin, the water supply and treatment manager at OWASA, said in the release, “We sincerely apologize to our customers for the taste and odor, and for its duration. We fully recognize that the community expects drinking water which is aesthetically pleasing as well as safe and healthful.”
Officials have been releasing water from fire hydrants at 30 locations across the service area to allow fresh water into the storage tanks and 380 miles of pipes. OWASA reports the water leaving the Jones Ferry Water Treatment Plant in Carrboro has “close to normal” taste and odor. But the water they are currently working to flush from the system may still reach customers.
OWASA has increased the use of powdered activated carbon at the treatment plant, according to a release, in order to help resolve taste and odor. OWASA also began adding a chemical, which officials identified as sodium permanganate, to help neutralize taste and odor in water being pumped from the Cane Creek Reservoir.