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Question for Member Utilities from Pat Planton, SEH, Inc.

posted Oct 21, 2009, 6:30 PM by Tracy Hall   [ updated Oct 22, 2009, 12:17 PM ]
Have a customer that utilizes surface water from a nearby quarry.  Vaguely remember similar issues in the past with Lake Michigan and Members of the West Shore Water Producers Association. 
If any utilities have experienced problems with earthy, musty tastes and odors in their water; and, you are willing to share that information, please contact me.
Looking for possible causes and any data or other information you may have. 
Thank you.
Patrick S. Planton, PE
Principal | Sr. Project Manager
425 West Water Street, Suite 300
Appleton, WI 54911-6058
(920) 380-2817 Direct          (920) 380-2800 Office
(715) 347-0341 Cell             (888) 413-4214 Office toll free
pplanton@sehinc.com        (920) 380-2801 Fax
Usually we think of earthy musty T&O originating from decaying alga or other organic materials. During the decay process various compounds are released including geosmin and MIB (methylisoborneol). These compounds are detectable on the human palette in the low parts-per-trillion level. They are typically most prominent when the water is warm.
One may test for these compounds in a commercial lab, the cost is about $400 per sample.
On the West Shore, utilities utilize powdered activated carbon, ozone, and/or biologically active carbon to reduce these compounds. Through the 90's we were having increasing issues with geosmin/MIB but over the last several years things have been very quiet.
If you have any further questions, please let me know.
Bill Soucie
Lab Supervisor
Central Lake County Water Agency