Water is Safe, But Taste and Odor Issues Could Last for Weeks

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drinking water in Long Beach

The musty taste and odor of the water noticed by some Long Beach residents is caused by an algae bloom, but is safe to drink according to MWD.

The Long Beach Water Department is notifying customers that a recent bloom of algae in the water supply that it receives from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and then serves to customers could continue to cause taste and odor issues in the coming weeks.

Over the past week, some Long Beach residents may have found their water to contain an earthy or musty taste and/or odor.  It’s important to note that these taste and odor characteristics do not compromise the safety of the drinking water in any way.  

Algae Causing Odor and Taste in the Water

The taste and odors are produced by specific types of algae, under the right conditions, that are found in the treated imported water that Long Beach purchases from the regional water wholesaler, MWD.  Although the taste and odor compounds are found in the water at very low levels (parts per trillion), certain people who have very acute senses may be able to detect these tastes and odors.

The algal blooms responsible for these taste and odor releases into the water could last for at least a few more weeks.  Communications with MWD staff indicate that they are working with State officials on implementing a strategy to control the release of these compounds.  In the meantime, MWD is attempting to dilute the taste and odors by blending the affected water with a separate, unaffected water source.

Where Does Long Beach Water Come From?

During much of the year, most areas in Long Beach receive water that is a blend of imported MWD water and local groundwater.  However, due to regularly scheduled maintenance at the Long Beach Groundwater Treatment Plant intended to maximize the efficiency and reliability of the plant, it is currently non operational and will continue to be offline for another month.  As a result, all Long Beach water customers are currently receiving 100 percent imported MWD water.

Once the Groundwater Treatment Plant becomes operational, many areas of the city will resume receiving water that is blended, which should help mitigate residual taste and odor issues, but until that time Long Beach residents will be relying strictly on MWD water.  Ultimately, as long as the algal bloom conditions remain in MWD’s distribution system, there will likely be taste and odor issues that are noticed by residents in some areas of Long Beach.

Resources for Water Information

Last Friday, MWD issued a press release with additional details on the situation.

The Long Beach Water Department will provide updates on its website as the situation changes.  Residents with additional questions or concerns about their water can contact the Water Department’s water quality laboratory at (562) 570-2482.

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