State and local officials say they believe last year’s drought may have led to more Denton County residents noticing a foul odor and taste to their tap water this summer, resulting in officials’ search for ways to remove impurities.
The main cause of the changes, according to Mustang Special Utility District officials, is decaying vegetation and algae growth in supply lakes that feed into Denton County.
The drought caused lake levels to drop to historically low levels, which subsequently caused vegetation to grow on lake beds.
Rains earlier this year filled the lakes, submerging the vegetation. This resulted in vegetation decaying underwater along with creating rapid algae growth, adding to the unpleasant odor and taste.
Residents in Paloma Creek, Providence Village and Savannah reported the changes in their water to Mustang, which mailed and e-mailed notices to residents with details about the changes.
The water is safe to drink, but the algae and decaying vegetation may give a grassy, bitter taste to the water.
Mustang receives its water from the Upper Trinity Regional Water District, which has said it is searching for ways to mitigate the problem.
Untreated lake water is piped to a plant. The water then goes through a membrane filtering process to remove most solid particles and then is disinfected to eliminate certain organisms.
That process makes the water safe but doesn’t remove color and odor entirely.
However, the district said the untreated lake water will slowly improve, which means the strong taste and odor issues eventually will subside.
Upper Trinity spokesman Jason Pierce said there is not a quick fix that can take care of the water issues.
One solution to the issue is to use ozone as a cleanser to help remove bad tastes and odor from lake algae blooms, he said.
Sometimes, however, ozone doesn’t completely remove every unwanted taste and odor, according to a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality report.
The TCEQ water supply division doesn’t have any reports regarding any health-related issues about the smells and tastes in Denton County, spokeswoman Lisa Wheeler said.
But according to the TCEQ, changes in the water’s taste and smell are common during the spring and summer and the decaying vegetation poses no threat to residents. The taste and odors should disappear by fall as temperatures cool.
The Denton County communities aren’t the only cities in Texas experiencing the changes in their water.
The North Texas Municipal Water District, which supplies water to more than 40 cities and water systems, also has reported foul odors and tastes in water.
The North Texas district reported that the annual algae bloom, similar to one in the Upper Trinity district, is behind customer complaints.
To counter the effects, the cities are adding activated carbon to the treatment process, which will absorb the unusual taste and odor.
JOHN HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org