New treatment should eliminate water odor for northern Beaufort County customers

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 23, 2014 

A musty taste and odor in northern Beaufort County drinking water should be eliminated soon, according to the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority.

The authority has employed a new treatment effort that eliminated the algae causing the problem, the BJWSA said Thursday.

"We still don't have a precise timeline, but these management techniques have eliminated the algae, so the water leaving the plant will be back to normal pretty soon," said BJWSA general manager Ed Saxon.

The water is safe for drinking and other normal use, but some customers are put off by the taste and odor, which are produced by chemicals from algae in the utility's source water taken from the Savannah River, BJWSA chief operations officer Chris Petry has said.

Earlier this month, technicians began treating the water at the utility's Chelsea Water Treatment Plant in Okatie -- which serves 60,000 to 80,000 customers -- but the odor persisted, Petry has said.

This week technicians treated the plant with copper-sulfateto and eliminated the algae. The chemical is commonly used in surface-water treatment and is approved by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a BJWSA news release.

The plant must process existing reservoir water before customers are entirely free from the strange water taste and odor, and BJWSA field crews will begin flushing lines to speed that process, according to the release.

The utility also has hired Charleston environmental engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer to evaluate its source-water delivery and treatment system, which will cost about $27,000. That work will begin next week, BJWSA spokesman Matthew Brady said.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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