The City of Ottawa’s water department is working to get rid of a fishy taste and odor in the city’s water system.
The water is safe to drink, cook with or take baths and showers, Keith McAdoo, water superintendent, said Wednesday.
“We run tests on the system daily, checking on it,” McAdoo said. “It is still safe. It is not as perfect as they are used to. We changed a couple of treatment techniques at the plant to head it off. It should go away in the next couple of days.”
McAdoo said the warmer weather mixed with recent rainfall is a bad combination and causes the water to taste and smell different. He explained the natural nutrients of the water in the holding ponds get stirred up and then react to the chlorine the city uses to make it safe to drink.
“Then sometimes that’s what gives off that odor, sometimes a taste,” he said. “Some people describe it as a ‘fishy taste.’”
Waterlogic.com said the combination of chlorine and ammonia creates a compound called chloramine and can sometimes produce an unpleasant aroma in the water. Another cause of the smell is the algae blooms in the water, the website reported. Although water treatment plants rid the water of the algae, the particles that cause the fishy smell can sometimes be detected by people, according to the site.
“This is the worst outbreak we have had in several years,” McAdoo said. “It used to be real common 20 years ago. We found techniques to address it. We try to stay ahead of it, but this year was worse than usual. We had to increase treatment processes in a couple of areas to head it off.”
The problem is not universal throughout the city, McAdoo said.
“It moves around in bubbles,” he said. “Some places are worse than others. Sometimes the smell is worse in hot water because when it heats it up, it tends to magnify it.”
McAdoo said it is a common occurrence throughout May and June that the water may have that fishy smell.
“It does not catch us every year,” he said. “It depends on the weather we have. We try to stay ahead of it, but this year it caught us a little bit [off guard].”
He said calls to the water department are important to help them know the water conditions.
“We depend on people to let us know so we are aware that it is out there,” McAdoo said.