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Water plant operators are using powdered activated carbon in the treatment process after detecting early last week a weak earthy or musty taste in the treated water at the plant and odor in the raw water.
Operators began feeding the carbon on Monday, Oct. 12, when a plant operator detected the taste and odor issues. The city tests finished water for taste and odor each hour when the plant is operating. It checks raw water for the presence of odor several times each shift.
“Our operators last detected the taste issue on Wednesday,” Jason Grey, interim director of utilities, said today. “We are using the new carbon feeder that we installed in recent weeks, and it is doing the job it was designed to do.”
Although water distributed to the taps of customers has been through all the city’s treatment processes and is safe to drink, Grey said city has taken an added step to mitigate any taste issue. In that step, the city purged the water storage tanks across the city and then filled them with water that had been treated with powdered activated carbon.
Grey said staff has received eight to 10 customer complaints since Wednesday. “Most of the callers are telling us they detect a slight earthy or musty taste in their tap water,” Grey said.
In comparison, during taste and odor events in February and March, the city received hundreds of calls reporting a strong, earthy odor and taste.
Grey said water samples have been collected and sent to various laboratories. Results are expected later this week, he said.
State officials from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water are investigating the situation.
James Reynolds, deputy field director for the Office of Drinking Water’s Danville office, said Tuesday that the Halifax County Service Authority also detected a faint earthy or musty taste in its water and is currently feeding carbon as part of its water treatment process.
Reynolds said he believes the situation was detected early in Danville and Halifax County, so any taste issue detected by water customers should be a short event.