WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’ve noticed a different taste or smell coming from the water in your faucets, you’re not alone. It’s a common phenomenon in the summer, according to water quality experts.
Jaime Fleming, laboratory manager for the city of Wyoming, said she’s been getting more calls from residents, concerned that their water tastes or smells musty, earthy or swampy.
“We serve a very large population base, not just the city itself, but other neighboring communities. So that’s about 230,000 people. Those who are sensitive to the taste and smell that happens in the summer often will give me a call,” Fleming said.
It’s a result of the algae in Lake Michigan. Fleming explained that the temperature and amount of sun impact the likeliness and intensity of that odd taste. Stretches of hot, sunny weather and wind can stir up the lake, causing the algae to move closer to where water is drawn in.
Although some algae are harmful, Fleming said typically, the ones that make water smell or taste strange will not negatively impact your health.
“We have some great analysts in our lab that take a look under the microscope to see what kind of algae we’re seeing. We know that, for the most part, they’re not the ones that cause us any sort of health issues, but when we send them through our treatment processes, they make some things that don’t taste so great.
Wyoming residents aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed.
Wayne Jernberg, water system manager for the city of Grand Rapids, said that while calls are down from last year, he’s also been getting complaints.
“If we see it become an issue, we have the ability to add more carbon to the water,” he explained. “That carbon acts as a neutralizing agent to those taste and odor issues. As far as we’re concerned right now, we feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on it.”
Jernberg said during June and July, there were 21 complaints of taste issues.
“For a system with 80,000 accounts, that’s usually pretty good. Sometimes people obviously don’t call in and don’t let us know that there’s a taste and odor issue. We encourage them to do that, so we know that they’re having an issue in the areas,” Jernberg said.
In addition to calling your local water authority to let them know of any concerns, you can also do things at home to combat the taste and smell issues.
Fleming said the colder the water, the less you will notice the taste. If you don’t have access to a Brita or faucet filter, you can fill up a regular pitcher with water from the tap and put it in the fridge before you drink it.
“It’s frustrating because it doesn’t taste great, but it isn’t harmful to your health. [People] can be assured that they can drink that water.”
She added that if you notice the smell when you do laundry, washing with cold water can help with that.
As we enter the end of September into October and lake temperatures start to drop, Fleming and Jernberg said the issue would tend to resolve itself.