Complaints of musty-tasting, smelly water in Livermore

Several households and businesses in Livermore Valley are complaining that their water smells and tastes awful.

The problem is an earthy-musty taste and odor; a problem that has been the talk of the Livermore Valley neighborhood blogs for days. It involves compounds found in heat and sun fed algae blooms that taint water flavor and smell. Just a single teaspoon of these compounds in a lake the size and volume of 200 Olympic swimming pools would be noticed.

The issue has been noticed at the local water agency.

"[Phones are] ringing off the hook. We've had a tremendous number of calls regarding the current taste and odor issues that are pretty much Tri-Valley wide," Frank Vallejo, Livermore District Manager of the California Water Service.

Carlyne Weiss just opened up the Hawaiian themed Beach Hut three weeks ago in down town Livermore. Last week the problem arose here. "The customers started complaining that there was an odd taste and smell. So, I shut down our soda machine and water instantly. They said it was tasting  like dirt so, yeah, I went and tested it and it didn't taste right.  So, what I've  done was that I went and purchased cans of soda and water, just so they can have that option." said Weiss.

Cal Water gets its supply from the regional distributor, the Zone 7 Water Agency, which is pulling most of its water out of the usually sun drenched  Delta. "So, what we tell our customers is that the water is safe to drink, that our wholesaler, Zone 7, is doing everything they possibly can to fix this. This is a pretty tremendous algae bloom we're dealing with here," said Cal Water's Frank Vallejo.

But, some of the water here comes from the Del Valle Reservoir which does not have algae. "I've got tap water in my water bottle here and to me it tastes fine and I thin that different parts of town has different sources. So, I haven't noticed any water taste differently," said Livermore resident Betty Ellis.

"We're Livermore residents so I definitely noticed the water tasted a little odd, it  was a little slimy and had a bizarre smell to it," Weiss of the Beach Hut.

How long all this will last is unknown. "It kind of just has to work its way through the system so we would like to  ask for their patience throughout this time," said Cal Water's Vallejo.

As more housing comes into play in the Livermore Valley, the Zone 7 Water Agency will have to do something about it, namely, put ozone into the water to try to deal with this problem.   But, that's at least two or three years away.