This newsroom received several calls regarding drinking water from faucets smelling and tasting moldy in certain areas of Crossville and Cumberland County.
One resident of Crossville, Beth Rich, told 105.7 News that the problem started roughly over a week ago. “I could smell the water when I turned on the faucet on for a bath. I could also smell it when I turned on the faucet to get a drink of water,” said Rich.
So what is going on?
105.7 News contacted Jerry Kerley, Director of Meadow Park Water Treatment Plant in Crossville to find out exactly what happened to the water.
“The sudden drop in temperatures in the lake back around October 13, 2018 caused geosmin,” said Kerley.
Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct aroma produced by certain bacteria, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets and a contributor to the strong scent (petrichor) that occurs in the air when rain falls after a dry spell of weather or when soil is disturbed.
It means simply that because of the extreme temperature drop, the sediment that is normally on the bottom of the lake rose fast and mixed with water near the surface. Water treatment facilities will typically add things like potassium permanganate to help eliminate odor and improve clarity but this happened so fast that it already got into the water system before action could be taken.
“We are doing everything possible to return things to normal water but the chlorine we are using in the process is having little effect,” said Kerley.
Kerley then gave some good news.
“Typically this process takes two weeks to run its course, according to chemists and the techs over at Tennessee Tech. This problem first was noticed on October 14 and we started to get the first calls about it from water customers on the 15th. It is a process to flush the “smelly water” out of the system entirely with the fresh water everyone is used to and we hope to have that done soon,” said Kerley.
“The water is not harmful currently but it is not pleasant.”
Kerley closed with the water department hopes to have the problem corrected as soon as possible and asks water customers affected for their patience.