The reason behind taste and odor issues in drinking water

Beaver Lake

Courtesy of Trip Advisor

Beaver Lake

Billie Firmin, Editor

If you have noticed that your tap water tastes funny, fear not. Your water is still safe to drink.

“We want to assure our customers that, no matter how short or long the duration of the event, the water is safe to drink,” said James McCarty, manager of Environmental Quality for Beaver Water District.

Beaver Water District is the main source of water for Northwest Arkansas and provides drinking water to approximately 300,000 people.

“Just about every year around Labor Day, conditions in Beaver Lake can favor the rapid growth of algae,” said McCarty.“When algae die, they may give off compounds that can cause unpleasant tastes and smells in drinking water. One of those compounds, 2-methylisoborneol or MIB as we refer to it, is the main culprit at the moment.”

Algae grows quickly in conditions with lots of heat and sunlight, and this is the state that Beaver Lake is currently in.

An excessive amount of nutrients in the water can also contribute to algae growth. Lake turnover, which occurs when water temperatures begin to cool, causes compounds at the bottom of the lake to rise to the top and encourage growth. Beaver Water District officials have also stated that humans can accidentally add nutrients to the water by using silt fencing on construction sites and using immoderate amounts of fertilizer on lawns.

When exactly the water will return to its regular taste is difficult to say. “The water will taste better in a few days to a few weeks. Nature will decide,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs at Beaver Water District.

Chilling or putting lemon in the water may help to diminish the funny taste.

Beaver Lake is not the only area affected by this event. According to McCarty, “These taste and odor issues are not unique to our area. It’s just a seasonal event.”

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