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Bedford residents may have noticed a change in the taste of tap water following the latest cold snap. The Trinity River Authority of Texas (TRA), Tarrant County Water Supply Project monitors water testing, including water pumped from Lake Arlington. TRA recently provided data that shows increased levels of the naturally occurring chemical compound geosmin (as also reported during past winters). Geosmin is not a harmful compound; however, it can give water a musty or soil-like taste and/or odor. TRA assures its customers that their tap water is safe to drink and is not a public health threat.
Bedford Public Works staff is working closely with TRA and will continue to monitor the geosmin levels and address taste and odor issues. Recent results show that water treatment processes are eliminating more than 95 percent of geosmin in water coming from Lake Arlington before it is sent to residents, resulting in tap water with less than 50 parts per trillion. Geosmin can be detected by some individuals at levels down to five parts per trillion. As an example of how low a level that is, five parts per trillion equals about 1¼ cups of geosmin diluted into the entire volume of Lake Arlington.
Geosmin is produced by algae found in surface water. Extreme temperatures can kill off algae in surface water, which releases the geosmin into the water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets acceptable levels for any compounds that could harm human health or cause significant aesthetic issues, does not include geosmin in the category of compounds requiring monitoring. Heating the water increases the volatility of compounds like geosmin, which explains why the smell is more easily detected when you are in the shower or when water is used for hot beverages. The change in smell, taste and odor is only temporary and staff will continue to closely monitor water supplied by TRA.
If further information is necessary, please contact the Public Works Department at 817-952-2200.