Durham residents experience smelly tap water as algae blooms in city water sources

North Carolina
Durham Drinking Water Source

People in Durham are dealing with algae began blooming in the city’s water sources, causing their tap water to smell and taste funny.

John Powell’s been dealing with the issue for weeks. He said his dog won’t even drink it. 

He said, “It smells like the algae died in the water. And then can you imagine just taking a shower in pond water?”

City officials say the warmer weather’s caused algae to bloom in the city’s main water sources of Lake Michie and Little River Reservoir. 

City workers are adding copper sulfate to the water, a chemical used to combat the unpleasant tastes and smells. Then regularly testing for updates. 

Several hydrants are also being flushed out across Durham to get rid of the old water and make room for the new. 

“I started collecting water from work and bringing it home. It’s just a bit rough.”

Across town, Jeanne Gaime and her husband have also been keeping an eye on it. 

“He poured it into a cup and smelled it right away but then it faded, so we think it’s getting better,” she said. 

She ordered another water filter in the meantime. 

“It’s like if you can smell it, is it really safe?” she said. 

City crews insist it is safe to drink and use for all purposes, but some residents say they’d prefer not to. 

“In a small way of saying, it’s very inconvenient,” said Powell. 

The water’s supposed to be back to normal in a few days.


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