The tap water in some parts of northern Texas tasted and smelled likes grass clippings recently.
The solution? Treatment plants in the area are betting on ozonation.
The cities of Arlington and Fort Worth disclosed in January that the strange odor and flavor were "was partially due to Tarrant Regional Water District changing its source from the Richland-Chambers Reservoir to Lake Benbrook for pipe maintenance," according to a report by KHOU.
But there is more to it than pipe repairs.
"In addition, a 'naturally occurring compound' called geosmin has been rising, which is normal in colder weather when algae in surface water is killed off," the Star-Telegram reported, citing officials in Fort Worth.
Fort Worth has used Ozone as a disinfectant agent at all plants since fall of 2012, according to the city. The city "pioneered using ozone for primary disinfection in Texas in 1993 with the opening of the Eagle Mountain Water Treatment Plant."
The benefit of ozonation, according to Fort Worth, is that it oxidizes organic matter in raw water. That means "less coagulation chemicals are needed" in the treatment process.
"In addition, ozonation helps with taste and odor. While taste and odor are not indicators of water quality from a safety standpoint, they do affect customers' perception of the water quality," the document said.
That will be welcome news to Rachel Pann of Arlington, who was not pleased with the strange flavor of her tap water.
"Like, if somebody was to mow their lawn and get part of the dirt area — you know how it flies up and there’s that smell? — that’s exactly what it tastes like and it smells like," she said to KHOU.
Ozonation is seen as an alternative to chlorination, according to BiOzone, a company that provides equipment for ozonation. Ozone has been used for water purification in Europe since the early 20th century.
"Relatively, the use of ozone for water treatment and purification in the United States has been much more limited. However, the use of ozone has been increasing here in the U.S.," the company said.
For more on drinking water treatment visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Disinfection page
Image credit: "tap water," © 2010 Mitwa AV, used under a Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
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