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Algae in Beaver Lake causing water odor and bad taste, but is not harmful

Some Uroglena are known for imparting a fishy taste and smell to the water.
Beaver Lake

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Increasing amounts of algae in Beaver Lake may lead some customers to detect taste or odor in their drinking water right now. 

Beaver Water District wants to ensure customers that the water is still safe to drink and use.

"During some springs, conditions in Beaver Lake can favor the rapid growth of algae,” said Dr. James McCarty, Environmental Quality Manager for BWD. “While most algae are relatively benign, some can impact the taste and odor of the finished drinking water.”

Uroglena volvox, is an algae that is experiencing a bloom in parts of Beaver Lake right now. 

Some Uroglena are known for imparting a fishy taste and smell to the water. 

The last time we experienced a spring Uroglena bloom was in 2015, according to Beaver Water District.

While some customers may be sensitive to its taste and smell, the blooms are typically short-lived. Regardless, the water is still safe to drink.

Taste and odor issues occur as a result of environmental conditions, but human actions can be a contributor, officials said, adding that they want customers to understand the cause of taste and odor and be proactive about taking care of Beaver Lake. 

To help keep the lake free of too many nutrients, which contribute to the growth of algae, maintain your septic systems, don’t over fertilize lawns and contain sediment and dirt on construction sites with silt fencing or other stormwater best management practices. 

There are ways to minimize the taste and odor of the water. For instance, chilling water and/or adding some lemon to the water will help. In addition, carbon filters – the type used in water pitchers or attached to faucets, are effective at removing taste and odor compounds in drinking water.

“These taste and odor issues are not unique to our area,” McCarty said. “It’s just a seasonal event. It may last a few weeks, but the timeframe varies. No matter how short or long the duration of the event, however, we want to assure our customers that the water is safe to drink."