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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 3:45 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º


Water Authority Addresses Questions on Unusual Water Taste and Odor, Assures Safety to Health

State Water Project customers in northern Santa Barbara County, including Santa Ynez ID#1, City of Solvang, Vandenberg Air Force Base, City of Santa Maria and the Golden State Water Company (Orcutt), may experience unusual taste and/or odor in their potable water over the next few weeks.  

However, the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA), which operates the State Water Project system within Santa Barbara County, is increasing its water monitoring and testing and can assure residents that the water supply is perfectly safe to drink and that no water quality standards are being violated.

The unusual taste or odors that some customers may detect are due to compounds produced primarily from blue-green algae and organic matter in surface waters, imparting a musty or earthy taste and odor.  

Although customers may find these tastes or odors to be unpleasant, they do not present any health risk. They are routinely monitored and regulated only as an aesthetic concern and not as a health concern.  

CCWA has measured elevated levels of one of these compounds in samples collected from the CCWA Water Treatment Plant (WTP) as well as from samples collected in the Department of Water Resources (DWR) raw water pumping facilities and canal.

The detected chemicals are specifically 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) and Geosmin, although only MIB was detected at an elevated level.  

Both of these naturally-occurring chemical compounds are routinely monitored at concentrations in the parts per trillion range based on a secondary standard related to the aesthetic quality of drinking water.

Additional testing by CCWA completed last week indicates the CCWA water treatment plant is receiving raw water with much higher MIB levels than normally encountered; therefore, CCWA is utilizing a specialized powder activated carbon (PAC) dosing system to help with additional treatment of the water leaving their plant.  

CCWA will increase testing and provide treatment for MIB and Gesomin until the levels drop to an acceptable level in the raw water source.

If you have any questions regarding the quality of your drinking water, please contact Water Division Supervisor Kevin Harmer or Public Works Director Matt van der Linden at 805.688.5575 or [email protected].

— Matt van der Linden is the public works director for the City of Solvang.


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