Temporary Taste, Odor Issues With Drinking Water Linked to Algae in Lake Arlington

Articles Water Lake Arlington 02 08 17

UPDATE 3 p.m. 3/6/2017Arlington 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.

Previous story: 

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.

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
John
Guest

I was told the other treatment facility would be back on line March 1st and then to expect water quality to begin improving rapidly as foul water in the lines is drained through customer use. Is the other treatment facility back on line now?

Gary Shook
Guest

So when is the Kubala plant coming back on-line? We still cannot drink the water coming into our home?

Susan Schrock
Admin

Hi Gary,
Arlington Water Utilities started the process of bringing the John F. Kubala Water Treatment Plant back into service today, following the successful completion of equipment upgrades. Treatment staff expects the temporary taste and odor issues caused by geosmin in Lake Arlington will be relieved by early next week due to the alternate water source.

Chelsea
Guest

Is there an update on this issue? We’ve been drinking bottled water (which gets pretty expensive considering that we’re big water guzzlers), but even our clothes smell like rust from washing them with this awful water.

When is this expected to pass?

Susan Schrock
Admin

Hi Chelsea,
The water is safe to drink. Arlington Water has been working hard to eliminate nearly all of the geosmin before water is sent to homes. Unfortunately, we are continuing to experience record high levels of geosmin from Lake Arlington. We are hopeful that recent additions to our treatment process will make it even more effective at removing the taste and odor caused by geosmin. We appreciate your patience.

John
Guest

Susan Schrock–
You gave Chelsea a vague answer but no answer to her question (update on this issue) or to Gary Schook’s question. Is the Kubala facility back on line?

Laurie Owen
Guest

Just wanting a more current update of the smell with the water. The smell has changed as of this morning at my residence from the dirt/rusty smell we have had for the last few weeks to a high smell of chlorine when the cold water is running and the hot water seems to be not as strong anymore. Is this situation around Arlington getting any better? We are right in the border of Arlington and Mansfield. Thanks in advance for your input!

Jeremy Morgan
Guest

Also tasting a lot of chlorine today.

Susan Schrock
Admin

Hi Laurie, thank you for the question. Our water quality lab says chlorine residuals have all been within normal ranges this month. Some people may be noticing these normal levels now since the geosmin has made them more sensitive to taste and odor. I hope that helps.

Cris
Guest

When I moved to Arlington back in1985, the city touted itself having the #1 water in the country replacing San Francisco. Now I have to take bottled water with me when I dine out. And I get all excited when the restaurant is in Fort Worth or some other locale. For a city that wants to be the entertainment capital of Texas, this is unacceptable and embarrassing and downright inconvenient!

Angel
Guest

I have about 60 people staying in an Arlington Hotel for an event. We have been here for several weeks. Many of us have broken out in a rash. Two of us including myself have been diagnosed with Staph infections we believe due to the water. Something more is going on here.

Susan Schrock
Admin

Hi Angel. If you have a concern about the quality of the water, you can call the City’s water quality Laboratory at (817) 575-8984 or Arlington Water Utilities Customer Care at 817-275-5931.

Shirley
Guest

My water taste’s different and turns yellow when I bathe.

Lara
Guest

This is completely unnaceptable. First the county forces us to use and pay for their water, then they give us absolute disgusting water to drink and use. It tastes like dirt and beets. I have tasted better pond water. Figure out how to do your jobs.

Ryan
Guest

And I break out in hives, that’s pretty ridiculous.

MTBer
Guest

Water isn’t free. Of course you have to pay for it. It’s a finite resource. It costs money to pump, treat, test, store and deliver water. Nothing is free. If you don’t like it, invest in a rainwater collection system and store/treat your own water. As for the quality, nature happens and likes to get in the way sometimes, be happy you don’t live in Flint. Be thankful you have water at all. I’m sure those who have to fight for it across the world wouldn’t mind a little algae.

Sean
Guest
First off, the water is stored in Lake Arlington, per the article, eliminating the ‘storing’ costs. Second, even according to the article, and not including several other sources, all of which are based in Texas, MIB and Geosmin are known issues. This means that Arlington did not take necessary steps, as most other municipalities have, such as the Houston area, to be ready to treat the problem as soon as it arose. Third, water isn’t exactly a finite resource. The water cycle pretty much says that nature can filter it’s own water, and public water utilities even admit, when being… Read more »
Lara
Guest
I am very thankful we have water. However you missed the mark here MTBer. The City of Arlington requires that we purchase their product (water). If I am in business and my product is horrible, my customers would refuse to do business with me and/or the product would be returned. This water is terrible and people like you think this is alright for Arlington to do. I do not. As for collecting water, that is a great idea and I do that already. Being that I live in the city though, collection amounts are not sustainable for my family. Correctly… Read more »
wpDiscuz