FAQ About Spartanburg Water’s Taste and Smell

Spartanburg Water System has updated their website about the taste and smell of the water and added a Frequently asked questions section.

READ: WHY DOES MY WATER TASTE FUNNY IN SPARTANBURG?

You can read the full response on Spartanburg Water’s website:

Spartanburg Water continues to experience the presence of higher levels of Methyl-Isoborneol, or MIB, in our drinking water reservoirs. MIB is the chemical byproduct of a tiny, non-harmful aquatic species that naturally occurs in most watersheds whose impact can intensify in water sources during periods of dwindling rain and hot temperatures.

Spartanburg Water System’s source water is drawn from surface water reservoirs – Municipal Reservoir #1 and Lake Bowen. Under certain conditions of warmer water temperatures, low stream flows and higher levels of natural components within the watershed, environmental conditions exist to produce odor-causing substances, including MIB.

MIB occurs naturally throughout the United States and is common in most watersheds. Among other natural environmental conditions, its levels can often spike as a result of dwindling rain and high temperatures—both of which we’ve experienced this summer.

Based on our continuous monitoring of the water—with more than 265 tests conducted each day to ensure quality—the current levels of MIB appear to remain higher than normal, and could continue to remain that way for a number of weeks. In fact, we’ve not seen MIB levels this high since 2003.

During this time of higher than average MIB presence in the water, a small percentage of our customers may continue to notice a strong, earthy taste and odor in their water.

Despite the taste and odor of the water, it is safe to drink, and safe for everyday use. However, many have continued to express concern about the safety of the water—for drinking, bathing and hand-washing, even doing laundry. While higher levels of MIB can certainly change the taste and odor of the water, they do not compromise the water’s quality.

Our team of water professionals is dedicated to researching the best ways to not only control the natural source of MIB in our watershed, but also to find new and innovative methods to lessen its affect on the way that our water tastes and smells. While less than 1 percent of our customers have detected the changes in the way their water tastes or smells, we recognize the inconvenience and are working hard to determine the best methods to prepare for and lessen the impact of MIB in our drinking water reservoirs—in both Lake Bowen and Reservoir #1.

 

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FROM SPARTANBURG WATER’S WEBSITE

Why Does My Water Still Taste or Smell Funny?

Spartanburg Water continues to experience the presence of higher levels of Methyl-Isoborneol, or MIB, in our drinking water reservoirs. MIB is the chemical byproduct of a tiny, non-harmful aquatic species that naturally occurs in most watersheds whose impact can intensify in water sources during periods of dwindling rain and hot temperatures.

But what is causing this taste and odor problem?

As MIB forms naturally in the reservoirs that supply our water, it can cause the water itself to not only smell strange, but also take on an earthy, musty flavor when you drink it.

Is the water safe to drink?

We stand by our processes that bring you clean water every day. Based on our continuous monitoring of the water—with more than 265 tests conducted each day to ensure the overall quality—our water is safe to drink, and for common everyday use. However, many have continued to express concern about the safety of the water—for drinking, bathing and hand-washing, even doing laundry. While higher levels of MIB can certainly change the taste and odor of the water, they do not compromise the water’s quality.

But what is causing this taste and odor problem?

As MIB forms naturally in the reservoirs that supply our water, it can cause the water itself to not only smell strange, but also take on an earthy, musty flavor when you drink it.

How do I know that it’s safe?

Our continuous monitoring of your drinking water can be viewed in our water quality report.

Is this only happening in Spartanburg County?

No. MIB is a common challenge for water providers across the country, particularly for those who, like us, have experienced a drier and hotter summer than we’ve had in years. In fact, partly due to recent weather conditions, Spartanburg Water has not experienced such high levels of MIB since 2003.

How long is this going to last?

The current levels of MIB appear to remain higher than normal, and could continue to remain that way for a number of weeks.

What are you doing now to keep my water from smelling and tasting bad?

Because MIB is naturally occurring, there are limited methods to remove it entirely from water reservoirs. As a result of these limitations, there are also limited methods to control the way it makes our water taste and smell.

But what can you do to fix this right now?

There is no easy answer for the dilemma caused by higher levels of MIB. Just as nature has created this challenge for us, we will also have to lean on nature to help us lessen its impact on the water: More rain and cooler temperatures are the greatest way for us to see a reduction in MIB and, as a result, better tasting and better smelling water.

When will we see a change in our water’s taste with the technology Spartanburg Water currently has?

Our water treatment facilities utilize conventional and proven water treatment methods, but we have supplemented these strategies with the addition of powder-activated carbon, which absorbs elevated levels of natural organics which can cause your water to taste or smell funny.

What is Spartanburg Water doing to prevent this in the future?While there is no way to completely remove MIB from our watershed, our team of water professionals is dedicated to researching the best ways to not only control the higher

levels of MIB, but also to find new and innovative methods to lessen the affect on the water’s taste. The technology and science of water treatment continue to open new doors for water providers across the country, and we are reviewing the latest research—in addition to our own strict monitoring of the water—to determine how to manage MIB not only now, but also in the future.

What can I do to make the water taste and smell better?

Our experts do recommend chilling the water to a lower temperature, which can make the water taste and smell better.

How will I know when there are changes that will make my water taste and smell better?

Please check back with us here for updates on the taste and odor problem. Should you require more information, please contact Spartanburg Water Customer Service at (864) 582-6375.

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