City says Temple's drinking water safe despite unusual taste, smell

The city of Tempe is advising residents that the city’s tap water is safe to drink even though it may have an “earthy” taste or smell over the next few weeks due to algae byproducts in storage reservoirs and lakes.

The city recently said low levels of algae byproducts are common in warm regions with deep storage reservoirs or in lakes. There are no ill health effects from the water, and the city says it is using activated carbon (PAC) to absorb the compounds.

The odor and smell are common during the late summer and fall when temperatures begin to cool down and algae release more odor-causing compounds as they die off, according to the city.

“While you may at times experience an earthy smell and taste, your water continues to be safe to drink,” the city said in a statement. “During these occurrences, running water through a refrigerator filter or a carbon filtration pitcher can improve taste. Chilling drinking water and adding lemon slices can also help.”

The city also said in its press release that it is working with Arizona State University and Salt River Project to monitor and treat algae growth in the area’s lakes and canals. 

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Arizona State University City of Tempe

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