News Feature | December 21, 2016

Water Reductions Leave Foul Taste In California Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome

hetch hetchy reg new

Water reductions at a major California reservoir have left some ratepayers with “nasty-tasting” water.

“Palo Alto and other local cities' residents who have been complaining about nasty-tasting water coming from their taps can blame it on water reductions from the Hetch Hetchy supply and blending from other sources,” Palo Alto Online recently reported, citing City of Palo Alto Utilities spokeswoman Catherine Elvert.

The Hetch Hetchy is a major reservoir supplying water the to the San Francisco Bay area, including Palo Alto.

“The Hetch Hetchy supply was reduced from 145 million gallons per day to 105 million gallons of water, which is coming from surface-reservoir sources, Elvert said. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) did not initially indicate that there would be any changes to taste or smell, but after receiving a number of complaints, Palo Alto Utilities asked the agency if there was anything unusual in the water,” the report said.

Palo Alto City Manager James Keene discussed the challenges at a city council meeting this month, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“Blending of the water supply with local surface water sources stirred up sediment in a pipeline, causing the change in taste and odor,” the report said, citing Keene. He noted that the strange taste and odor had the potential to linger for a couple days “as the water travels from distribution reservoirs and tanks to Palo Alto residences and businesses.”

“Keene said the city did not experience such changes in taste and odor in recent years from the annual blending of the water supply. The city has asked the Utilities Commission to notify Palo Alto in advance of the annual blending next year so the city can alert residents,” the report said.

Officials also offered a health note for “highly sensitive” customers, Palo Alto Online reported: “Some highly sensitive customers, such as those with compromised immune systems, can be affected by minor water-quality fluctuations, and they should consult with their physician to determine in general if they should be taking precautionary measures such as adding filtration devices, the city utilities department noted on its website.”

But officials said the strange odor and smell did not indicate poor water quality, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Some San Francisco ratepayers also reported strange-tasting water this month, according to San Francisco News. They opined the issue on social media, the report said.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.

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