Algae congeals on White River

It's not just you. Muncie's drinking water has been a bit funky the past few days.

The strange tastes and odors come from an unusually early algae bloom in the Prairie Creek Reservoir near Muncie.

An algae bloom is the rapid increase in a population of algae in a freshwater or saltwater environment.

Mary Beth Johnson, Indiana American Water spokeswoman, said the early warm temperatures caused the bloom.

The company is using powder-activated carbon on top of the regular granular carbon to neutralize the algae. It also is flushing fire hydrants in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of complaints.

She said Indiana American Water has received several complaints.

"We're hoping what we're doing will clear it up sooner rather than later," Johnson said. "We have been treating this since we got the first call. Our treatment process is taking a lot of the taste and odor issues out of it, but there is still some remaining and we are working diligently to get it cleared up as fast as we can."

The algae's effect isn't contained in Muncie.

Indianapolis Water Company reported on its website that many customers have complained about similar taste and odor issues. The company's tests indicated the origin was near Muncie and, based on its staff's experience in the past 30 years, this is the earliest and largest taste and odor issue it has seen.

Some Ball State University students certainly have noticed a difference in the past few days, while the change snuck past others.

Freshman Katie Wessler, speech pathology major, said the fountain water in the residence halls is cloudy, and it has been all year.

The water quality in Muncie seems to go through cycles of good and bad times, she said. Her dad grew up in Muncie and he told her one year everyone had to boil their water because it wasn't clean enough to drink.

"They knew there was a problem when the birds wouldn't even drink it," she said.

Eating dinner in the Atrium Wednesday, Wessler's friends agreed Muncie's water quality seems poor overall. It tastes like dirt, one said. Others said they don't even taste it after a while.

Freshman Julie Wilkinson, telecommunications major, said she usually drinks bottled water, but she was drinking water from the fountain Wednesday.

"I don't like the aftertaste of Dasani," she said. "I guess I'm particular about water."

Sophomores Ryan Welch and Kyle Thodern said they can't taste the difference in Muncie water.

"I think I'd be able to tell [if it was really bad]," Welch said.


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