The water flowing out of Tempe faucets is safe to drink despite its cloudy appearance and musty smell, according to public works officials.
The look and odor of the city’s water has changed as a result of muddy stormwater runoff that’s now flowing into Tempe’s water treatment plants.
The muddy water forced the city to change how it handles water at the plants.
In order to effectively treat the new muddy flow, the city on Saturday stopped using power activated carbon that reduces musty odors in drinking water.
The odor is caused by algae that produce various byproducts. While the byproducts can lead to an unpleasant taste and smell, Tempe said the water is still safe and meets Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
The muddy runoff is a result of the Sunflower Fire in May that burned more than 16,000 acres in the Tonto National Forest northeast of the Valley. Runoff from that area enters the Verde River and eventually the Salt River Project canal system that provides water to the city’s treatment plants.
The muddy flow started last week when intense storms struck the Sunflower Fire area. With more storms in the forecast, Tempe anticipates it will continue to suspend powder activated carbon treatments through the week and possibly into next weekend.
Until Tempe can resume its normal treatment procedures, the city says residents can improve the taste of water by running it through a refrigerator filter or carbon filtration pitcher such as a Britta. Also, the taste and odor can be improved by chilling water and adding lemon slices.
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