Archive for Saturday, August 1, 1998


August 1, 1998


It may smell odd and taste a bit musty in a few areas of town, but utilities officials insist the city's water remains safe to drink.

Musty water pouring into some areas of town this week now appears headed downstream.

Debbie Van Saun, the city's assistant utilities director, said her department received fewer than 20 complaints since Wednesday regarding unpleasant tastes and odors in the city's water supply. The complaints came from pockets in North Lawrence, around Kansas University and in southeast Lawrence.

The problem likely was brought on by byproducts from algae taken in with water from the Kansas River, which in turn was treated at the Kaw Water Treatment Plant.

The ``musty'' tastes and unpleasant odors likely have been flushed from much of the water system, Van Saun said Friday afternoon.

``The water is safe to drink,'' she said. ``The problems that we've experienced in the past few days are aesthetic. The water continues to meet or exceed all federal and state compliance guidelines.''

Bob Burlingame, who lives on Bishop Street in southeast Lawrence, said he'd been using bottled water for days to make his morning coffee. He doesn't like the city's insistence that his water is safe to drink, albeit a touch unpleasant.

``I'm going to call up later on and see who's buying my (bottled) water,'' Burlingame said.

Van Saun said the city was doing all it could to prevent the musty water from reaching homes and businesses. Once notified of the problems, officials shifted much of the city's water production to the Clinton Water Treatment Plant.

Officials also increased the use of powdered activated carbon in the water, so that much of the pesky odors and foul-tasting materials would be adsorbed and filtered out before they could reach the distribution system.

Coincidentally, city commissioners are expected to approve the purchase of 7.5 tons of the carbon Tuesday, in preparation for the typical fall season, when similar problems stem from changing water conditions at Clinton Lake.

``We try to anticipate these problems and prevent them when we can,'' Van Saun said.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is

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