Bartlesville City Council updated on water odor, taste

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Bartlesville city officials are still working to find a solution to Bartlesville's two-and-a-half-week-old issue of odd-tasting and smelling water.

Giving an update at the Bartlesville City Council meeting Monday night, Water Utilities Director Mike Hall told councilors he contacted three engineering firms about the matter and finally Black & Veatch — the firm that helped to design the city's water treatment plant.

He said the firm will try to determine a permanent solution for the problem, saying there are four possible treatment options, some that would require more construction and then be more expensive and some less.

Those options he said are granular activated carbon, powder activated carbon, ozone and finally the combined use of ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide.

The work to find a solution will take one to two months to complete at a cost of $15,000 to $20,000 depending on the amount of work required.

Hall told councilors that a discussion with a chemist who deals in matters of water quality said Bartlesville's recent incidence of unpleasant tasting water is not singular to Bartlesville, but is nationwide, occurring also in Lawrence, Kan., and Kansas City as well as a number of nearby municipalities.

A possible reason for the taste, according to the chemist, is the large amounts of rainfall the area received in the spring, and thereby washing nutrients into the water, followed by a sudden increasing in temperatures.

This in turn caused growth in algae, which over time releases odorous chemicals such as 2-Methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin into the water, causing what some describe as a musty, muddy, potting soil or dirt-like flavor.

"At one point we tested the water coming out of Hudson Lake at 91 degrees," said Hall, saying 85 degrees tends to be the threshold for algae growth.

Asked by Councilor Ted Lockin if the water is still safe to drink, Hall said it is, but that "it's not aesthetically acceptable" due to the musty, muddy taste in the water.

City Manager Ed Gordon said the city must address the matter.

"We need to take care of it now and for the future," he said.

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