The Saratoga County Water Authority is struggling to address a swampy odor and off taste in the water it is selling to municipal customers.
The water remains safe to drink, authorities said.
The issue with water taken from the upper Hudson River has surfaced in the last 30 days, and so far the measures the water authority has taken haven’t fixed the problem, said Ed Hernandez, the authority’s acting executive director.
The problem apparently stems from algae and other organic material that decomposes in the river.
“This happens seasonally with water systems on the Hudson River,” Hernandez said. “This year the taste and odor has been much more significant than in previous years.”
The current problem is unrelated to the situation a year ago, when the water contained by-products of the treatment process, authority officials said. Levels of those by-products have since been reduced to within regulatory levels.
The county authority, which started operations in 2010, takes its water from the Hudson in Moreau, upstream from Glens Falls. It currently sells 4 million to 5 million gallons per day — drinking water to Wilton, Ballston, Clifton Park and Stillwater, and industrial process water to the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta.
The Clifton Park Water Authority, which has its Boyack Road well site off-line for maintenance, has been buying more water than usual, about 2 million gallons per day. It has received a number of complaints from customers, said CPWA Chairman Helmut Gerstenberger.
“It’s good quality water, it’s healthy, it’s fine. There have just been some taste and odor issues,” he said.
The town of Ballston and the Wilton Water and Sewer Authority have also received similar complaints, Hernandez said.
“There is an issue, and we want our municipal partners to be happy,” said county Water Authority Chairman John E. Lawler.
So far, the authority has tried changes in the way it chlorinates the water at the treatment plant in Moreau, but that hasn’t fixed the problem. Also, the 1 million-gallon storage tank at the plant has been drained, without benefit.
But with the authority operating a 27-mile-long piping system, the going has been slow. “Whenever we make a change in the process, it takes a week to see what happens,” Hernandez said.
Next week, he said, the authority will begin flushing and cleaning all its lines. It has also asked the state Health Department for permission to start disinfecting with sodium permanganate, a stronger disinfectant than chlorine.
The odor issue doesn’t mean the water is unsafe, Hernandez said. “We do laboratory analysis every single day, and all the tests indicate the water is safe.”
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