Is Your Tap Water Tasting Funny? Algae is Blooming at a Marin Reservoir

Officials are treating an algae bloom at Nicasio Reservoir that has given tap water in Ross Valley and nearby areas a noticeable taste.


Marin Municipal Water District officials are working today to treat an algae bloom in the Nicasio Reservoir that has given tap water a funny taste.

MMWD Spokesperson Libby Pischel said some with more sensitive taste buds may have noticed their water “tastes off.”

“It doesn’t have that great taste that people expect from our water,” Pischel said.

The algae bloom happens on a cyclical basis when the reservoir, located roughly 5 miles east of Point Reyes Station, gets a lot of sun, Pischel said. “When [the algae] breaks down it creates that taste issue. We are out there treating the water today and the taste issue should be resolved pretty quickly.”

Workers are treating the reservoir with copper sulfate, Pischel said.

Pischel said water from the Nicasio Reservoir goes to the San Geronimo treatment plant, which serves San Geronimo Valley, Ross Valley (including San Anselmo and Fairfax) and some of San Rafael.

The taste may be extra noticeable to some because the last few days Kent Lake water was predominately sent to residents while the Nicasio water was turned off for unrelated repairs.

Kent Lake doesn’t have the algae concern because it’s a deeper reservoir, Pischel said.

The system can easily blend water from different reservoirs (such as combining water from Kent and Nicasio), but water from Bon Tempe usually feeds Southern Marin, Pischel said.


Have you noticed the different taste of your tap water?

Lynn Lubamersky July 30, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Thanks very much for getting the information out. I thought something might be wrong with my water pipes.
Jessica Mullins (Editor) July 30, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I actually called MMWD because I have noticed the taste and thought it was something to do with my pipes, too. It is such weird taste, I don't even know how to properly describe it.
John Neal July 30, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Good reporting as I noticed a strange taste just last night.
C Ross July 31, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The water may taste funny, but I wonder what's more toxic: algae or copper sulfate :( http://www.ehow.com/info_7869500_copper-sulfate-health-hazards.html
C Ross July 31, 2012 at 04:11 PM
PS Where's the Fairfax Town Council when we need them?
Ken Ballinger July 31, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Gnarly. I think I'd rather take my chances with an odd flavor. Nothing a little lemon couldn't mask.
Rico August 01, 2012 at 02:54 AM
That is interesting, and I have known it for many years. The west Marin watershed of the MMWD which is Lake Nicasio and Soulajule (although Soulajule is not used at all) only feeds about 15 percent of the MMWD service area. All I can say is that I am glad that I live in southern Marin, we don't use any of the water from Nicasio or the Russian river (SCWA). But, while I think the water from the Bon Tempe treatment plant is great, I don't drink it because they add fluoride to to it. I just bought a really cool book yesterday, it is authored by Jack Gibson, titled: Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water District. I have not barely looked at it yet, but it has many fascinating photos of the history of the MMWD. I recommend that anyone who lives here and is interested in the history of the MMWD check it out. As for you people being fed by the San Geronimo treatment plant, buy CG spring water for 99 cents a gallon at Whole Foods, at least until the bloom clears
Jessica Mullins (Editor) August 01, 2012 at 10:41 PM
We're wondering how many people are concerned about drinking water from the faucet. Please vote in our "Do you Drink Marin's Tap Water?" Poll: http://patch.com/A-w8Bn
Angie Callister August 02, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I haven't noticed any difference: however, I do filter my water with a Brita so maybe that is why...I never like tap water because all of a sudden --one day--you get news that might not be too good...like that our usually good tap water is foul! I don't trust tap water anywhere...
Jessica Mullins (Editor) August 02, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Angie, we had someone on our Facebook page who said they could taste the difference and they do use a filter. Maybe you live in an area that gets water from a different reservoir? MMWD Spokesperson Libby Pischel also told me that some may not be able to taste the blooming algae in their water, depending on how sensitive their taste buds are.
linn August 04, 2012 at 02:30 AM
For those of you who rely on filters to make your tap water safe to drink... a lot of them make the water "taste" better but not actually remove the harmful chemicals, pesticides, etc.


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