Algae bloom in river blamed for "stinky" tap water in Hopewell

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – There's a "stink" surrounding Hopewell's water. Residents are complaining that their tap water smells bad and tastes even worse.

Virginia American Water, which provides water to the city, describes the odor of the water as "musty" and the taste as, "earthy." Despite the unpleasant smell and odor the company insists the water is okay to consume and use as normal.

Harvey Butler, who owns a restaurant in Hopewell, recently became aware of the problem.

"We've noticed in the last two weeks there's been an odor with the water," said Butler.

As a safety precaution Butler is now boiling the water in his restaurant before using it to cook or make drinks.

"We're doing what we have to do to keep our guests coming in and making sure they're served safely," said Butler.

Virginia American Water says the problem is being caused by an algae bloom in the Appomattox River.

"We remove the algae in our treatment process, but it does release some substances that are non-toxic, but do have these tastes and odors associated with it," said Doug Woodhouse, Director of Operations for the water company.

The unpleasant taste and smell began to surface last month. Some residents say they're afraid to bathe in the water and to drink it. But the water company says there's no need for worry.

"It's safe to drink. It's deemed by the Department of Health and it meets all state and federal regulations," said Woodhouse.

The water company says it's adjusting its treatment process to help correct the problem.

"We're working diligently day and night trying to reduce the levels going out into the system," said Woodhouse.

Back at the restaurant, Butler says he'll continue to purify water until the smell and taste returns to normal.

"I'd like to see them fix the problem and prevent it from happening again," said Butler.

Virginia American Water says it's unclear when the water will be back to normal. A representative from the company will appear in front of city council during its meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the issue.

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