REEDSPORT -- Recently, Reedsport residents have reported a strange taste and smell from city water; while it won't be confirmed until this spring, the City of Reedsport attributes the cause to algae in the lake.

City Manager Jonathan Wright said, based on the reports, the City Engineers suspect the cause to be the non-toxic algae MIB and Geosmin. Wright noted these are types of algae common to coastal lakes and a harmless nuisance. MIB and Geosmin produce a musty, earthy taste and smell in drinking water; they typically see an increase in production in late summer and early fall, due to the low water levels and warmer temperatures, which causes a rise in the taste and smell issues.

Wright recalled the State Health Department mandated the City of Reedsport upgrade its water treatment system two years ago. He said this change switched part of the water treatment process from one that would remove much of the taste and smell, to one that retained more of it.

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"The UV plant is a completely closed system, so now it doesn't have the opportunity to off-gas the VOCs before it enters our distribution system," Wright said. "That's why people are noticing it now; it's always been present in our water, it's just the way we manufacture and process water has changed so those odors and tastes have become more apparent."

He also noted that filters aren't very effective for removing the taste and smell, since it gets into the water itself. While charcoal filters may help a little, they would not fully solve the problem.

The city plans to test the water in spring to confirm the presence of the algae. Wright said they tested the water earlier this year, but the timing meant that any traces had dissipated by the time the samples reached the lab. City engineers are also looking into other methods of treating water that could help; Wright recalled that Coos Bay and North Bend have a system to help with similar issues using activated carbon. The City of Reedsport hopes to test possible treatment methods in spring when the algae may be present.

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Reporter Adam Robertson can be reached at 541-297-3590, or by email at adam.robertson@theworldlink.com.