“Musty” Water Concerns Peninsula Residents

Ken Lammay says the water kinda tastes funny.

"It definitely doesn't taste like bottled water," Lammay said as took a sip of the water from a glass.

Taste aside, the Los Altos resident says it's the smell that gets him. When he takes a shower, he has to use extra soap and shampoo to mask the smell.

"When I turn on the faucet to hot, you kinda smell it more, and it's definitely got more of a distinct smell to it," Lammay said.

Cal Water, which serves about 65,000 people in Los Altos and in surrounding cities, has received close to a dozen complaints about a "musty" order in their water. The company assures its customers the water is safe to drink.

"We want to ensure our customers that the water is safe to drink," Elissa Ouyang, Cal Water Acting District Manager, said. "It's purely an aesthetic issue. It really doesn't affect any public health, any public safety."

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is working to get the odor out of the water.

"We're adding powder activated carbon at our treatment plant," Marty Grimes, Santa Clara Valley Water District Spokesperson, said. "And that should help and we're increasing that dosage.

You can blame the smell on algae from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It's common this time of the year when the weather is hot and algae is blooming.

"The water is going from the Delta into one our three water treatment plants that treat the water to very high standard. But taste and odor issues can sometimes be really stubborn especially when there's algae in the water," Grimes said.

But unlike the other two water treatment plants, the Rinconada plant in Los Gatos does not have ozone disinfection. The technology is really good at removing any odor or bad taste in the water.

"Customers who are getting their water from that system are the ones that we're hearing from," Grimes said.

Nancy Walsh drinks the water while she plays tennis. She hopes something is done soon.

"It tastes terrible. It tastes terrible, and if I don't have it in the refrigerator... I can't drink it at all," Walsh said. 

The Santa Clara Valley Water District says there's no deadline as to when the smell will be eliminated. But long-term, the Rinconada treatment plant will be getting ozone disinfection technology in the next few years. Water officials say when that happens, the odor problem will probably go away.

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