You can drink it, but ‘it tastes like dirt’ – foul water at lakeside towns is safe, council says

Kratau was one of the places that suffered from water odor problems.

Destination Great Lakes Taupo/Offered

Kratau was one of the places that suffered from water odor problems.

Some vacationers living on the south shore of Lake Taupo may have missed this note. This water is drinkable, but it “tastes like earth.”

Three lakeside communities complain of foul odors and polluted water, but the local council says the water is safe to drink.

In November, the Taupo District Council warned residents of Omori, Kuratau and Phukawa that they might find their tap water to have an “unpleasant odor and taste” after about six complaints. bottom.

However, not everyone got the message. Especially those who have villas in the area who arrived to find the water smelling like mold and like dirt.

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Approximately 1,400 properties in three communities located along Highway 41 near Turangi, southwest of Lake Taupo, have been affected.

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According to Tony Hale, TDC’s three waters manager, the situation was recently implemented for three days, ending Dec. 23, after a broken water main may have contaminated the local water supply. It had nothing to do with the boiling water notification.

Tests confirmed the water was free of contaminants and the boiling water notification was lifted.

After conducting inspections in November, the council found that water supplies to Omori, Kuratau and Pookawa contained a harmless organic compound known as geosmin, Hale said.

Geosmin is produced by microbes in algae and “produces an unpleasant odor and taste, but is not harmful at levels found in drinking water.”

Geosmin is common at this time of year, Hale said, and may come from the pipe network, especially during the off-season when organic matter accumulates and can flow off as demand increases.

“Geosmin levels can change so quickly that you might smell it one day, but not the next,” Hale said.

“To help with this, the resident back at the villa has to run the faucet and flush all the plumbing very well.”

Hale said the Omori water treatment plant has been upgraded but is still in the planning stages, with physical work to take place within the next year.

“Pipes are replaced based on condition assessment, age and leak history, so they are basically part of an ongoing pipe replacement program throughout the district,” he said.

Residents commenting on the Omori Kurataupukawa message board on Facebook said some resorted to purchasing drinking water.

“When you use the washing machine, the laundry smells musty.

“If you put water in a plastic bottle and smell it, it smells the same,” said one person.

“Our children can’t drink water anymore. It tastes like dirt,” said another.

Another woman stayed in Pukawa for a week and said that even after days of flushing her pipes, the water still “tastes and smells awful.”

“[We] Boiled and bottled daily. ”

One person said that boiling it and then cooling it made the water drinkable again, while another said that his water “smells and tastes like swamp” even when it’s boiled. rice field.

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