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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Has your water been tasting “off”? Some News 19 staff have noticed an earthy taste in Huntsville Utilities water recently.

Jim Reynolds from the Huntsville Utilities water department spoke with News 19 Monday morning and explained the situation, confirming the utility has gotten some calls from customers. According to Reynolds, Huntsville Utilities pulls water from two major sources – the Tennessee River and a groundwater plant on Meridian Street.

Per the Huntsville Utilities website, the Tennessee River water is pumped straight into three treatment plants:

  • South Parkway (located southwest of the South Memorial Parkway/Hobbs Island Road intersection)
  • Southwest (located southwest of Triana in southwest Madison County)
  • Southeast (located at the north end of Walker Road in Grant)

Groundwater is supplied through a water treatment plant and a supplemental well:

  • Lincoln-Dallas Ground Water Plant (located off Meridian Road next to Lincoln Mill)
  • Williams Well (located southwest of the Zierdt Road/Martin Road intersection)

The South Parkway and Southwest plants each pump up to 48 million gallons of water per day, with the Southeast plant pumping 12 million gallons per day. The Lincoln-Dallas plant supplies 9 million gallons per day, with the Williams Well supplying 4.5 million gallons per day. On average, 35 million gallons per day are supplied across the water service area (close to 24,300 gallons per minute), with a peak capacity of 75 million gallons per day.

Normally, areas covered fully by the groundwater plant will get 100% groundwater. However, during times of high water demand, such as the summer, Reynolds said the system will pump more water from the Tennessee River plant to keep up with demand. Because of this high pressure pumping across the HU water service area – some of which has to travel up Chapman Mountain – this can lead to areas typically served with groundwater getting overtaken by water from the River plant, and these areas may receive water with an abnormal taste.

Reynolds confirmed that Huntsville Utilities has been feeding activated carbon into water taken from the River for close to 18 years and it’s an annual, seasonal treatment. Typically, the carbon treatment starts around Memorial Day and lasts into the fall. This carbon is fed into the water to help neutralize algae blooms and other organic material that forms during the summer months when water is warmer.

Huntsville Utilities recommends customers with water that tastes “off” run their cold water tap for a few minutes to clear their lines. If the “off” taste persists, customers can call the Water Quality Lab at (256) 650-6374. Even with the “off” taste, Reynolds said the water is perfectly safe for drinking, bathing, and other everyday uses.