“Musty” taste in Davenport area water

Residents of the Iowa Quad-Cities experience a musty or dirty taste and odor in their water.

Taste and odor are not health concerns, according to officials at Iowa American Water, who say higher levels of “organics” in the Mississippi this fall combined with chlorine sanitization are causing the problem.

“We regret the inconvenience this situation is causing some of our customers and expect it to be resolved in the coming days,” company spokeswoman Lisa Reisen wrote in an email. “The water continues to meet all federal and state water quality regulations and is safe for consumption despite the taste/odor some customers experience.”

Reisen said Iowa American Water experienced higher levels of organic matter in the Mississippi this fall, including agricultural pesticides and industrial waste that are routinely removed. But this process, when combined with chlorine, can create a strong odor or taste.

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“Recently, Iowa American Water in the Mississippi has seen an increase in organic content. Organics are routinely removed by the disinfection process, however higher concentrations can occur in spring and autumn and when combined with chlorine in the disinfection process this can result in the development of various tastes and odors such as: B. stronger chlorine or musty smell or taste,” wrote Reisen.

According to Reisen there is no more chlorine in the water. Rather, a chlorine smell and taste is a by-product of sanitizing the water.

The Iowa American water quality team makes adjustments to minimize taste and odor concerns.

“Customers should see these adjustments over the next few days,” Reisen wrote.

The taste is unrelated to two major water breaks in west Davenport last week, according to the company. Iowa American Water issued a precautionary boil order in Davenport and Blue Grass on November 12 following two 12-inch water main bursts in the same general area. The company lifted the boil order on November 16.

The concentrations of agricultural chemicals the company finds in the Mississippi are typically lower than in small rivers and creeks because of the Mississippi’s “tremendous dilution factor,” Reisen wrote.

Since 1973, Iowa American Water has used granular activated carbon filtration in its treatment process, Reisen wrote, one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended technologies for removing agricultural chemicals and the resulting taste and odor.

Iowa American Water crews are also flushing water lines in parts of the Iowa Quad-Cities distribution system to flush water through the pipes to help resolve the taste and odor issue faster, she wrote.

According to the company, this will not result in any disruptions to water supplies, but customers may experience a drop in water pressure or discoloration of their water when Iowa American Water crews are nearby.

“Iowa American Water recommends that all customers who are experiencing discolored water run their cold water clear before using it again and refrain from doing laundry during this time,” Reisen wrote.

If problems persist, Iowa American Water recommends calling the Customer Service Center 24-hour hotline at 1-866-641-2108.

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