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10/02/2017 (Edited 10/06/17):

Several residents have been asking about the odor and taste of Smithville’s water.  Smithville Lake is an example of surface water (as opposed to groundwater sources, such as wells).  Since it has access to sun and air, the biggest concern with surface water is organic materials (microscopic bacteria, algae, etc.).  Smithville Lake is a Corps of Engineers lake, which means we aren’t allowed to “pretreat” the water until it enters the City's intake line.

Instead, our water goes through two stages of chemical mixing, and one filtration.  The water is mixed with activated carbon (the same thing in your home water filters), coagulants (materials that attract contaminants and cause them to fall to the bottom of the basin) and chlorine dioxide (which treats biological contaminants that can make you sick).  Phosphates are also added, to reduce mineral buildup on water lines, which lessens the risk of failure and makes for better water pressure.

Lastly, the water is filtered through a substrate of rock, sand, and coal, which remove all but the smallest particulates from the water.  It is then sent out to the city for storage and use.  Overall, the process is simple, but there is one other factor that causes major changes in the odor and taste of the water: inversion.

Thermal inversion, also known as “lake turnover”, occurs when temperature differences cause the warmer surface water to cool and sink, stirring up organic material and dirt from the colder water at the bottom of the lake.  This can cause the water to become murky, smelly, and taste “off”.  Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to stop thermal inversion.

One possible solution would be to add carbon or hydrogen peroxide at the intake from the Lake.  Another would be to add a third mixing stage, so the water has more exposure to the chemicals being used.  Other water treatment plants also use activated carbon in their filtration system – unfortunately, Smithville’s current infrastructure does not allow for this.  The final alternative would likely be to build a completely new plant, in a new location, with the extensive costs involved for such a project.

In short, Smithville is doing absolutely everything it can with the current layout and technology available at the water treatment plant.  Odor and taste are something all surface water sources have to deal with, especially due to lake turnover.  Infrastructure is always being reviewed and assessed for updates, but this must happen in the context of being fiscally responsible with the city’s resources.

Do know that the City's water passess all regulations on purity, so it shouldn't make you sick, even during times of thermal inversion.  Most of the year, our water is odor-free and easy to drink.  It's only at these times of seasonal transition that there is likely to be any odd taste or smell.
      City of Smithville   -  
      107 West Main Street   -  
      Smithville, MO 64089   -  
      Phone: 816-532-3897
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