Durham residents complain of stinky water

DURHAM (WTVD) -- What's that smell? People in two Durham neighborhoods say the water coming out of their taps stinks, but city workers say it's safe to drink

"When we fill up the bathtub for my son we can really smell it," said homeowner Amanda Flaim.

Vicki Westbrook with Durham Water Management said the city has fielded some calls of concern from residents reporting an "earthy" odor and "stale" taste coming from their tap. After a few water tests, the mystery is solved.

"Typically this time of year you might get some algae increase in your raw water supplies and although we're treating it with chemicals that are approved by state and EPA for use, sometimes it might not hit hard enough in the onset," Westbrook explained.

Westbrook said algae growth at the city's main water sources: Lake Michie and Little River Lake, as well as low water use in the neighborhood, may be to blame.

"The water doesn't turn over so it sits in the pipes and the sun beats down - super hot this time of year - so it does get a little stale and it enhances that earthy smell they barely noticed before," said Westbrook.

Workers are flushing some pipes to help with the issue.

Despite the smell, water tests have not found any harmful bacteria, so officials say the water is perfectly safe.

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