Danville water department no longer using carbon to combat water taste and odor issues

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - For nearly two years, Danville's water department has been trying to figure out exactly what is causing the city's drinking water to sometimes smell and taste bad.

Since last October, as much as 400-500 pounds of powder activated carbon were being added per day at the drinking water plant in an effort to eliminate whatever may be causing the problem.

But, that's expensive.

The carbon costs about $1 per pound.

"It was a real increase in our budget, a strain," said Barry Dunkley, Danville's director of water and wastewater treatment." We went over budget with our chemicals this year because of that."

As a result, since the water department hasn't received any complaints since February except for one week during September, the decision has been made to stop adding the carbon.

Fabian Martinez, the manager of Dell' Anno's Pizza, says in the past customers had been concerned about the water but he says since there haven't been any issues recently the bad taste and smell is not something he worries about anymore.

"It happened so long ago that I don't expect it to come back," Martinez said.

He's also not worried that it might come back now that the city is no longer adding the carbon.

"I feel pretty comfortable about it," he said.

Dunkley says it is possible that whatever has been causing the problem is gone now, but the department will continue to monitor the water closely and add carbon in the future if needed.

A year-long study of the city's water by researchers at Virginia Tech is underway to try to determine what may be causing the periodic bad smell and taste.

The study is expected to wrap up in August of 2017, with the results expected in late 2017 or early 2018.

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