Tastes & Odors in Drinking Water

Why does our water sometimes taste or smell bad?
Occasionally, you may notice a difference in the taste or smell of your drinking water. Taste and odors occasionally occur in the late winter when snow and ice melts and runs off into the Conestoga River. This can cause musty or chlorine tastes and odors.

In spring through fall, algae blooms can occur in the Conestoga River, giving rise to an earthy taste or odor. The algae is removed during the treatment process but can leave behind harmless, natural metabolites that cause the taste and odor.

Is the water safe to drink?
Yes. Taste and odor, although disagreeable, does not affect the safety of your drinking water. City drinking water meets or exceeds all local, state and federal drinking water regulations.

What does the Bureau of Water do to remove the taste and odor?
During water treatment, carbon and potassium permanganate is added to reduce the taste and odor. These treatment chemicals do not carry over into the drinking water. Unfortunately, the natural algae metabolites are very difficult to remove using current treatment methods.

How long will the taste and odor last?
The duration of the taste and odor depends on the severity of the algae bloom in the Conestoga River. It could last from a few days to several weeks.

Has the media been notified?
During long-lasting and severe episodes, the media are notified through press releases.

What Monitoring and Testing?
The Bureau of Water Chemistry Lab, Microbiology Lab and Plant Operations operators monitor the water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and conduct daily taste and odor profiles. The untreated Conestoga River water is examined microscopically to identify and monitor the concentration of algae cells to assist us in optimizing our treatment regime to maximize the removal of these taste and odor compounds.

Where can I get additional information?
If you need more information about the City’s drinking water, please contact the Water Quality Lab at (717) 291-4818.