Hot, Dry Conditions Cause Taste & Odor Producing Algae Growth in Lake Arlington

Articles Lake Arlington 08-21-15Condition is temporary and quality tests indicate the water remains safe

Beginning this week, water quality technicians for City of Arlington began noticing that the water from Lake Arlington had an “off” taste and odor. The City’s Pierce Burch water treatment facility receives 100% of the water it treats for its customers from Lake Arlington. That water treatment facility generally serves customers north of Arkansas Lane.

The City believes a naturally occurring species of blue-green algae that live in Lake Arlington are the cause of the problem.  These algae contain a taste and odor causing compound called Geosmin (pronounced gee oz min). These algae can grow very quickly with the right conditions: ideal water temperature, ample nutrients for their growth, calm conditions and clear water. Conversely, they can also die off very quickly in equally large numbers and release the taste and odor compound into the water. This in turn makes it into the water treatment plant when water is pumped from Lake Arlington.

Geosmin is not a harmful compound. However, it does impart a musty or soil-like taste and odor into the water at very low levels.

Although the City utilizes a very sophisticated water treatment method for taste and odor compound removal utilizing ozone and biological filtration, the levels from Lake Arlington can reach levels so high that even the City’s high technology water treatment capabilities are challenged.

“The taste and odor situation we are experiencing is expected to be of short duration,” said Water Utilities Director Walter “Buzz” Pishkur. “The water is completely safe to drink. All water quality tests indicate the water is meeting and most cases surpassing water quality standards and is absolutely safe to use for any purpose.”

Tests to identify this compound have been undertaken but results will not be available for several days. In the meantime, City personnel have made adjustments to the water treatment process by switching the water treatment process to the City’s other water treatment facility which receives water from a different source that is not experiencing taste and odor problems.

Pishkur concluded by stating, “We apologize if any customers have noticed this taste and odor event and it has caused them any inconvenience. We are very proud of the award winning water we produce in Arlington and are always striving to improve our water treatment process. Unfortunately, sometimes Mother Nature throws us a curveball that we must adapt to very quickly. With this event, it appears it will be short- lived. We ask for our customers to be patient as we work though this difficulty.”

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.

The City of Arlington Water Utilities serves a population of over 375,000 customers in Tarrant County and was one of the first utilities in Texas to use ozonation and biofiltration. It has been recognized for the high quality of its water.

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Sonia Christopher

I live in The Valencia Apts lately the water has had a chemical taste to it and it seems to be a slight odor in my kitchen I don’t know if that’s from the water. I like to know if this water is safe for drinking because I use it to make coffee and drink to take my medicine.

Reginald Lewis - Office of Communication

According to the Water Utilities Department, the water is safe to drink.