Funny taste, smell for some water customers in Mahoning Co. is ‘normal’

Local News

Water officials told us this is the result of a natural process and it isn't harmful

MAHONING CO., Ohio (WKBN) – For a few weeks now, customers who use Meander Water say they have been experiencing a foul smell and taste, but the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District said it’s nothing to be concerned about.

“As far as the consumption of it and the use for bathing and cooking, it’s perfectly safe,” said Jim Jones, Mahoning Valley Sanitary District chief engineer.

He said they’ve been getting about 10 to 15 calls a day for the last two weeks about the water.

“We get complaints on occasion of taste and odor here and there. Really not much you can do about it but then as the frequency of those complaints start taking place, then we have to start paying more attention to what’s going on.”

He said the reasons there are a funny smell and taste are above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall.

“You’re getting turnover in the reservoir due to seasonal changes. As the water temperature changes, it starts mixing. It starts picking up a lot of things that may have been laying on the bottom or laying dormant, and it’s normal. In the natural process with a surface, a body of surface water anywhere in the Midwest, this happens.”

This leaves a natural decay of algae and bacteria, which gives off the foul smell and taste.

While there’s not much workers can do, Jones said they’re doing the best they can to fix it.

“We start adding more carbon, which is a natural material used to act as a sponge to pull up these materials and drop them out in the process.”

Jones said some people are more sensitive to the taste and smell than others but it’s not as big of an issue as it seems.

Some customers disagree.

“I just can’t think that anything that smells like that could be safe to drink,” said Pattie Wiertz, who lives in Austintown. “It just smells too much like mold and I don’t want to drink it.”

She said she’s not taking any chances.

“I just went to Walmart…and just bought four or five gallons.”

The Mahoning Valley Sanitary District said it can’t give a certain estimate to when the issue will be fixed.

“The change to your process has to be slow,” Jones said. “If you start making rapid changes to your purification process, you could throw the entire process off. So that’s why it’s very difficult to deal with these situations.”

While officials say the water is safe, customers are still concerned it’s not.

“I don’t know what the long-term effects could be if it truly is not safe,” Wiertz said.

Jones said they’re hoping the issue will be resolved in the next few days or weeks. For now, he suggests using lemon in your water, using a filter or simply getting bottled water.

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