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Danville officials treating water because of 'musty smell'

Water in the system is safe for drinking, officials say

DANVILLE, Va. – Water plant operators are using a carbon treatment in the city's drinking water because of complaints from customers in various areas of a musty smell in the drinking water.

Operators on Thursday began adding powdered activated carbon, which is the best solution for removing the presence of odor, city officials said. However, some customers may not see immediate results.

"The water being treated at the plant will take several days to reach all areas of the city, particularly in those residential areas with low consumption and residential areas farthest from the treatment plant," said Alan Johnson, division director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities.

Johnson emphasized that the water in the system has been through all of the treatment processes and is bacteriologically safe for drinking.

Despite the complaints, Johnson said plant operators have yet to detect the odor at the water plant.

The city tests finished water for taste and odor each hour when the plant is operating. It checks raw water for the presence of odor several times each shift.

Plant operators do not know the cause of the odor and why it is more prominent in some areas.

"Heat and detention time can lead to trace amounts of odor to intensify," Johnson said. "We are optimistic that the problem will diminish in all areas as the carbon treated water pushes through our system."

The city has had reoccurring complaints with its drinking water, including when it confirmed the presence of three species of algae associated with odor and taste in 2015.