Algae Issue Closes Georgetown Spring

Dec 23, 2011

The bad taste and odor evident in the city’s tap water late last week pose no health concern, Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service officials said Tuesday.The water utility is addressing an issue with algae in Royal Spring, the city’s primary source of water. On Monday, Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service officials took the spring offline until the problem is corrected, General Manager Billy Jenkins told water board members at the body’s monthly meeting Tuesday.

“Late Thursday night or early Friday morning there was an algae bloom in Royal Spring,” Jenkins said. “When the algae dies, there’s a taste and odor effect.”

In this case, the smell and taste were of cucumbers, he said.

The water office had received about 100 complaints from customers since Friday, Jenkins said.

The odor and taste are associated with the treatment process, he said. Algae is killed using chlorine. When the algae dies, the cellular wall ruptures, releasing chemical compounds that produce the bad taste and odor, he said.

Although the water company has had algae in the spring before, this is the first time it has encountered this particular strain, Synura.

“We’ve been contacted by a water company in Massachusetts that’s dealt with this before,” Jenkins said. “It’s kind of rare and we’re trying to figure out what chemical we can use on this.”

Until that time, with the water treatment plant shut down, GMWSS is purchasing water from Frankfort Plant Board, one of the two outside sources of water the company already contracts with to supplement production from Royal Spring.

Also at the meeting, Finance Director Bob Wilhite told board members the utility had saved almost $600,000 in expenses this year through cost savings, which included $116,951 in potential water losses avoided by early leak detection.

“That’s bragging rights, folks,” said board member Bill Burke.