Engineering firm hired to study Bartlesville water taste issues

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Bartlesville city officials trying to solve the city's odd-tasting and smelling water issue have hired an engineering firm to conduct a taste and odor study on the city's water supply.

The Bartlesville City Council on Tuesday night approved a contract with Kansas City-based Black & Veatch to complete the study to determine the best method to eliminate future water taste and odor problems.

The study, to cost a maximum of $19,900 and set for a 90-day completion, will include the collection and review of information on the water treatment plant, the evaluation of possible treatment alternatives and the preparation of an engineering report on the study's findings.

According to City of Bartlesville Water Utilities Director Mike Hall, currently being considered as possible solutions are four possible treatment options, those being the use of granular activated carbon, powder activated carbon, ozone or the combined use of ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide.

"All four will need to be examined for effectiveness in treatment of taste and odor, retrofit options, and impact on current treatment process such as coagulation, filtration, and solids removal," Hall said in a memo to the council.

"This is really the first step and with that we will be able to determine our options," Hall told the council Tuesday night.

The study will also include a study of algal toxins, he said, referring to recent concerns due to an "unconfirmed report" published last month of toxin producing blue-green algae in Hulah Lake — a water source to Bartlesville.

Hall recounted to councilors how he told them in a recent council meeting that a discussion with a chemist, an expert in water quality matters, said Bartlesville month-long episode of unpleasant tasting water is happening in municipalities all throughout the area.

He told how the chemist said the taste is likely due to large amounts of rainfall the area received in the spring and the resultant nutrient buildup in the water coupled with increasing temperatures, which together caused algae growth.

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

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