East Bay residents to experience bad smell in tap water

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The California drought is causing East Bay Municipal Utility District or EBMUD to switch its water supply source and there could be some complaints.

A bad taste and smell in tap water will affect at least 1.3 million East Bay water customers in a few days.

EBMUD spokesperson Abby Figueroa says the agency is starting to pump warmer water from Pardee Dam in the Sierra at higher depths to save colder water down below for fisheries downstream. "Consequently, what happens is that the water that's going to be coming into the East Bay, starting in a few days because it takes a few days to flow in, is going to be warmer, more sunlit and water like that typically has more algae in it," she said.

It will be smelly but safe to drink. EBMUD first changed the valves in March and got a 1,000 complaints. "I just started smelling some sulfer, rotten eggs smell in water and I thought it was our building, so I called the superintendent," Sayaka Ogata said.

This time the water agency will reduce the shock by slowly changing the valves. "This is not preferable to have a difference in taste and smell, but the alternative would be not having enough water next year," Figueroa said.

A carbon water filter will eliminate odors and improve the taste. Those typically run between $15 and $40.

Susan Hopes people will skip the filter and smell the drought. "Having a really tangible reminder every time when you turn on the tap that we're in a bad drought can be really helpful," Susan Kuchinskas said.

The water also tasted different in March, but officials are planning to change-over more slowly this time, hoping to give people more time to adjust.
For full coverage on the drought, click here.
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