Lab tests confirm that cause of unpleasant odor and taste of Lawrence’s drinking water is elevated level of algae byproduct

Laboratory tests have confirmed that a byproduct of dead algae is producing the odd tastes and odors in the city’s water supply.

Jeanette Klamm, a spokeswoman for the city’s Utilities Department, said test results found elevated geosmin levels in the raw water coming out of Clinton Lake.

Geosmin, a compound produced when algae die, can cause an earthy and musty taste and odor to drinking water. But city officials said the geosmin poses no health risks to people or pets who consume the water.

Klamm said the geosmin levels currently are holding steady. The city hopes the taste and odor issues soon will become less noticeable, but said it was difficult to predict future levels because they fluctuate with the weather.

Klamm said the city is working to remove the taste and odor by adding more carbon to the city’s water treatment process.

“But it is one of those things where at a certain point, the carbon just doesn’t do it anymore,” Klamm said.

Klamm, however, said the city doesn’t have alternative treatment options, such as an ozone process, because of cost constraints.