The drought and a wet winter have created conditions ripe for algae blooms this summer. Algae blooms are currently affecting a state water supply to Santa Clara County. The affected water supply comes through the South Bay Aqueduct, a pipeline that brings water from the Delta to Santa Clara County. Some of the water agencies northeast of the Santa Clara Valley Water District who have been taking water from the aqueduct informed us that they have received complaints about a residual musty/earthy taste the last couple of weeks.

Santa Clara County has not experienced the earthy taste and odor thus far this year because a section of the South Bay Aqueduct leading to the water district’s Penitencia Water Treatment Plant has been offline for the past 8 months while we complete seismic upgrades to three pipelines near the plant including the aqueduct.

However, the South Bay Aqueduct and the Penitencia Water Treatment Plant are returning to service this week, which means the affected water will begin to move through our system. The water will also be used for groundwater recharge and supply the Rinconada Water Treatment Plant next week. 

The water district will do its best to prevent the musty/earthy taste and odor from affecting your tap water. The earthy smell is not toxic and does not pose a health concern; our water has and will continue to meet or surpass drinking water standards.

Because it is important to the water district to provide high-quality drinking water, we have processes in place to deal with the earthy odor caused by the algae bloom. While we will do our best, the human nose is very sensitive to the type of algae byproduct that is causing the odor issue, and it may be detectable to some customers.

To lessen the musty/earthy odor, we recommend chilling your tap water before drinking. It is not necessary to boil water, as the water is safe to drink and meets all state and federal public health standards.

We will strive to improve any taste and odor issues we may experience this summer. We put the highest priority on providing safe, clean water to Santa Clara County.

Learn more about taste and odor issues.

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