Water causing odd odor and taste in Butte County

Apr 2, 2014 6:37 PM

Cynthia Ruyle says her tap water just doesn't taste or smell right.

“The water is really chemically,” she said.

The Oroville resident noticed a change in her water a few weeks ago, and it's literally caused her headaches ever since.

“For the last three weeks I’ve had these really bad migraine headaches,” Ruyle said. “I thought it was more allergy headaches but for the last two days: no water, no headaches.”

People in the Oroville, Kelly Ridge and Palermo areas have noticed a difference as well. And water experts know all about these problems. Officials say the plant Eurasian Milfoil is the primary problem for the odd odor and taste. The plant is always in the water, but a busted valve is making it much more difficult to deal with. But this isn’t your average valve: it’s a four-and-a-half ton valve that has to resist a 300 pounds per square inch of pressure.

The valve is responsible for bringing fresh water into the local reservoir, and ultimately reducing the smell and taste. But it’s been damaged for months and can only be repaired overseas. And without it, plants in the water have released a very small but very irritating compound.

“It would be the equivalent of putting 30 drops into enough water to fill the Rose Bowl,” said Mike Glaze of the South feather Water and Power Agency. “So, it doesn't take very much.”

Officials say this water is absolutely safe to drink, but Ruyle says she wants more proof.

“Is this going to be bad for me?,” she asked. “I would like somebody to test the water.”


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