Moulton residents may be relieved to hear efforts are being taken to address a long-term solution for an “earthy” taste reoccurring in city tap water this winter. 

According to Moulton Water Superintendent Jay Johnson—who has received numerous complaints of bad-tasting water—algal blooms in the Sinking Creek Reservoir are responsible for the unpleasant odor and taste. 

“Rest assured, there are no safety concerns related to these taste and odor events,” Johnson said. “The water is safe to drink.”

City officials have announced steps being taken to address the issues, including the initiation of a water quality monitoring program to ensure federal and state water quality standards are always met.

In the meantime, Johnson said there are additional steps water customers may take to reduce the earthy taste and smell. He says refrigerating tap water in a pitcher overnight or heating tap water should help. 

Addressing algal blooms is not a new challenge for Johnson and the Moulton Water Department. Johnson said the taste and odor impacts were expected to occur this year after rising temperatures and heavier rainfalls increased the chances of algal blooms producing the organic compounds, geosmin and 2-Methylisoborneal (MIB).

Geosmin and MIB are responsible for the musty flavor and scent, but otherwise pose no threats and are non-toxic to humans. Geosmin has also been cited as a source for pungent earthy flavors in apple juice, beets, fish and wine.

“While every attempt will be made to lessen taste and odor issues using water treatment processes, there are limits to what water providers can do to eliminate the issue at this time,” Johnson added. He said the city has contracted a civil and environmental engineering consultant firm to determine the best long-term solution for the problem.

“Moulton is studying and testing a variety of treatment strategies,” he said. “Moulton is working to collect water quality and soil samples from Sinking River Reservoir, as well as water temperature and algal population measurements in the water reservoir. Moulton is moving forward with a preliminary engineering report to assist in their evaluation of the additional treatment technologies, which will include an enhanced capability to address this issue.”

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