Water Department News & Announcements
August 28, 2019: Metallic-Tasting Algae in Reservoir
Starting in early August, an algae bloom occurred in the Quabbin reservoir. While the presence of low levels of algae (naturally occurring microscopic plants) is a sign of a healthy reservoir, this particular bloom consists of Chrysosphaerella algae, which leaves a metallic taste to tap water. The bloom is being monitored by Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and MWRA three days per week. Staff are collecting samples in the reservoir, performing microscopic analyses, and identifying and counting the algae concentrations. MWRA is also communicating with each of the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct communities several times per week. In addition, water quality is monitored continuously with on-line analyzers immediately before and after treatment at the Brutsch Water Treatment Facility, as well as further downstream. While this algae bloom presents a nuisance taste and odor condition, the water remains safe to drink. In the meantime, chilling water in the refrigerator and/or adding lemon is the easiest way to improve the taste.
This Chrysosphaerella bloom occurred starting around Aug 6. Chrysosphaerella is a golden brown algae of the Chrysophyte family. Blooms of nuisance algae are very rare in Quabbin Reservoir; the last bloom causing taste complaints occurred in 1996 from another golden brown chrysophyte, Synura. It is expected that this bloom will decline soon as nutrient levels in Quabbin are naturally low, and unlikely to support such a bloom for a long period.
More information about Quabbin Reservoir and water quality is available at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's website.