Tap water takes on unsavory flavor in Tarrant County

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA

Bio | Email | Follow: @MSaavedraTV

WFAA

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 11:58 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 12:00 AM

ARLINGTON — Imagine pouring yourself a cool glass of gritty grass clippings. Not appetizing, right?

Unfortunately, thousands of North Texans are now getting water out of the tap with a similar smell and taste.

"Like, if somebody was to mow their lawn and get part of the dirt area — you know how it flies up and there’s that smell? — that’s exactly what it tastes like and it smells like," said Rachel Pann of Arlington.

H20 with an earthy odor is now pouring out of her faucet. She noticed it Sunday night after making iced tea with her husband.

"He took the first taste and he said, 'Wow, this tastes like dirt... this tastes off,'" she recalled. "He dumped it out, made another one... same outcome."

Now that soil-scented water is everywhere — in her dishwasher, shower, and in thousands of other homes.

The problem area includes all of the drinking water in the City of Arlington and in east, south and central Fort Worth.

On Monday night, both cities confirmed the problem, saying it was partially due to Tarrant Regional Water District changing its source from the Richland-Chambers Reservoir to Lake Benbrook last week for pipe maintenance.

The other culprit — geosmin — is an organic compound released by dying algae, known for its earthy smell. The algae often die because of the cold. For that reason, the compound is common this time of year.

"Maybe it’ll take a few days to cycle, but a little heads-up would have been great," Pann said.

The cities suggested putting the water in a pitcher and letting it air out; or adding a lemon or lime to ease your taste buds' pain.

"That’s not going to cut it," Pann said. "Actually, that tea's been sitting there for a day, and I tried it when I got home and it still tastes like dirt!"

And if it still has that same unappetizing taste in a few days? Pann says she'll be calling her water company.

Both utilities say the water is safe to drink. At the treatment plants, crews are increasing the amount of ozone added to the water. It is used to disinfect, but can also help the taste and smell.

The City of Fort Worth says there is no way of knowing how long this stench will stick around.

E-mail msaavedra@wfaa.com

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