If your tap water smells or tastes like dirt, don’t worry. The Augusta Utilities Department says it’s not dangerous and they’re trying to fix it.
After receiving several complaints of pungent drinking water, Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said Monday his department was working on it around the clock.
In the meantime, the water poses no health threats.
“It does taste and smell funny, but it’s not a health issue,” he said.
The department, which usually receives three to four calls a week, got eight calls on Monday alone.
“We’re dealing with the same thing that Columbia County was having last week,” he said. “We tried taking preventative measures, but it seems to have caught up with us over the weekend.”
Wiedmeier said the problem could be the result of an algae bloom at Thurmond Lake or in the utilities department’s Highland Avenue raw water reservoir, though the source hadn’t been determined.
Cooler weather could be another factor, he said.
“As the air turns cold and the top of the water chills, the top layer sinks and kicks up sediment that rests at the bottom,” he said. “That sediment could get picked up at our intakes, causing the water to taste and smell funny.”
Jim Plunkett, of Augusta, said he and his wife have noticed a “faint earthy taste” in his drinking water over the past week.
“I would describe it as being similar to drinking water from a garden hose when speck of dirt gets into your mouth,” he said. “I haven’t noticed any smell, just a faint earthy taste.”
Wiedmeier said the department has been adding activated carbon and potassium permanganate to the water at the Highland Avenue treatment facility. That should take the edge off the taste and smell, he said.
Fire hydrants around Augusta have also been left open to flush out any contaminants.
As of Monday afternoon, Wiedmeier said, his employees reported that the smell was gone.