CWS: Water tastes earthy, but still safe


The yuck is back. Water consumed by some 400,000 people in three counties around Charleston tastes and smells a little dirty. Blame the algae growing in Bushy Park Reservoir.

But the peculiar taste is harmless. It happens nearly every spring.

And “it’s not nearly as bad as it was last year,” said Gunnar Vizbulis of Mount Pleasant, who in the past has turned to bottled water rather than drink the algae-affected water from the tap. “If I drink it down real quickly, I don’t notice. If I roll it around my mouth a bit, it tastes a tinge moldy.”

The Charleston Water System has begun activated carbon-treating at the reservoir and adding water from the Edisto River to reduce what’s also been described as an earthy or musty taste and smell.

“Our water is still safe,” said Jenny Craft, public relations manager. The smell and taste are being minimized, and “We’re hopeful that in the next few weeks the algae episode will subside and our water will return to normal.”

The taste is an annual spring problem in the Lowcountry, when water temperatures rise and algae start growing. The mild winter brought it on a little sooner than normal.

Activated carbon is similiar to the material used in filtered water pitchers.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-574, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.