INm City of Bloomington to clear algae from drinking water : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Downtown residents complaining about strange taste of city water

By Stephanie Holmes, Herald-Times Staff Writer If some Bloomington residents thought they noticed a slight difference in the way their water tasted Tuesday and Wednesday, they were right.

The taste change was due to an increased amount of algae in the water.

Despite the increased algae presence, "the water is extremely safe," according to John Langley, environmental projects coordinator for the city of Bloomington.

He said the algae found in the water is not dangerous or even visible once the water has gone through the water plant's filtering process, but it can be tasted by some people.

The problem was first detected around 6 p.m. Tuesday by workers at the city's water plant on Lake Monroe. It affected areas throughout the city Wednesday.

"The problem should be knocked out during the next 24 hours," Langley said.

Steve Glasgow, water quality coordinator, said that utilities workers are adding granual powdered activated carbon. The carbon absorbs taste and water during treatment, and then is itself is removed during the filtering process.

He said this added carbon filtering process is only done when a odor or taste is found in the water.

Although the change in algae level was detected early, it could not be stopped quickly because it was found during the city's largest consumption time, which is from around the time people get off work until bedtime.

"It is not an exact science. It could have gone anywhere depending on the evening's consumption," Langley said.

Mike Breyer, owner of Johnny Angel's Express on the corner of Third and Walnut streets, said his customers began complaining that the water tasted funny during the lunch rush Wednesday.

"I had to throw away between 10 to 15 Cokes and replace them with bottled beverages," he said. "I am sure I wasn't the only one who experienced problems."

According to Langley, any change in taste comes from a buildup of decayed plant life in the water in areas of the lake.

As lake water shifts, the amount of plant life can vary. Once the water cycles through the final filtering process, which takes an average of six to eight hours to complete, it is impossible to stop it from reaching home and businesses.

"It's like stopping a bus on ice," he said.

Because the algae content varies, not all areas served by Bloomington Utilities have been affected.

"We haven't experienced any problems, and all I drink is water, so I would know." said Jack Clark, manager of Ponderosa Steak House on South Walnut Street.

Breyer feels that the city's failure to let people know about the problem earlier was frustrating.

"I feel like it is a problem that could have easily been taken care of," Breyer said. "I just wish the city would have informed business owners. these kind of things just make the restaurant look bad."

-- Doris (, May 25, 2000

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