What’s up with the water? Monroe algae bloom creates funky flavors

Jack Crystal, Staff Writer

In the past few weeks the water from the water fountains has tasted and smelled a little bit off. The combination of the drier temperatures and the higher levels of algae found in Lake Monroe are to blame. 

Noah Young, a sophomore at Bloomington High School South has been noticing the difference in the water quality. “It tastes a bit better but doesn’t taste as good as it does in other places in Bloomington,” said Young, a sophomore at South. It may not be too noticeable of a difference but there are still a few small differences in odor and taste.

Although this water may taste weird, it is in no way harmful to anyone who drinks it due to compounds such as Geosmin and Methyl-Isoborneol. “While they affect the aesthetic appeal of the drinking water, these compounds are not a health concern,” said Yäel  Ksander, the Communications Director at the Office of the Mayor, in an emailed press release.  

One possible reason for the change in taste could be the cyanotoxins that algae blooms release.

The AP environmental science teacher, Amanda Figolah and her class believe these toxins could have caused the bad taste and odor. Another suggestion Figolah  brought up was the possibility of fertilizer and sewer overflows into the water, but it is less likely.

One solution that the City of Bloomington Utilities has proposed is the integration of Powdered Activated Carbon or PAC into the water which removes the Methyl-Isoborneol and Geosmin. PAC is an absorbent used to remove harmful contaminants from bodies of water and air that removes the compounds that cause bad taste and odor in water such as Geosmin and Methyl-Isoborneol. 

These compounds come from the combination of the early fall warm weather and algae, and cause minimal problems with the water. The CBU is always testing the water to make sure it is as safe as possible to drink.  “At CBU we continually test water to maintain safety standards that meet or exceed state and federal regulatory levels so that the water our customers drink is safe,” said the CBU Director Vic Kelson in a release.

The CBU is working hard to keep our water safe and to get the taste and odor back to normal.

“We’re focused on identifying the cause of these unusual taste and odor issues to restore our customers’ usual good-tasting tap,” said Kelson.