IRMO, S.C. — According to Irmo resident Frankie Delk and others across the community, for the past two weeks or so, their tap water has had a dirty, earthy taste and weird odor to it.

“I’ve lived here 25 years," Delk told us, "I think its bull-hockey of what they’re saying the problem is because we’ve never had this problem before.”

Columbia Water issued a statement last week saying:

"Columbia Water customers who are served from the Lake Murray Water Treatment Plant may have noticed an earthy smell or taste to their tap water recently. Plant operators are aware of the issue and are working to address it. While it is a nuisance, there are no safety issues with the water.

The cause of the odd smell and taste is naturally-occurring in Lake Murray during the summer months. It results from certain types of algae, fungi, and bacteria growing in the lake. As these organisms grow and multiply, they excrete small amounts of harmless  compounds into the water that cause a musty, moldy, or earthy taste and odor.

The two most common compounds are geosmin and methylisoborneal (MIB). Although these  compounds are harmless, the human senses of taste and smell are extremely sensitive to them and can detect them in the water at low concentrations.

Columbia Water has implemented several process modifications to reduce any objectionable  smell and taste as much as possible. Geosmin and MIB cannot be removed from water using normal water treatment, so operators are using activated carbon to reduce their levels.

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve the issue."

Robert Yanity, Columbia Water Communications Manager, says the water is still safe. 

“First and foremost we want to let folks know the water is perfectly safe- there are no health issues associated with it," Yanity began, "So we wanted to ease their concerns on that point. Essentially what we’re seeing, and this has happened at this time of year, we see algae blooms that come into Lake Murray and this year its been very unprecedented. There are a couple of compounds that this algae produces and they’re called geosmin and we call it MIB… they excrete these compounds that are naturally occurring but it does give the water an earthy kind of taste and smell to it.”

Yanity said that its difficult to get rid of that earthy flavor but they have modified their processes a bit and have added activated carbon but it is a challenge.

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Yanity did point out this is only really happening with the north east region they service including the Irmo area because that water comes from their Lake Murray Plant.

He says as it cools down, it should start to go away but they are monitoring the situation.

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Citizens, though, are not happy with these conditions at all. 

"Its something the customer shouldn't have to put up with," Delk says, "get out there and fix it, that's what our money pays y'all every month for."

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