Tempe water smells and tastes funny, but it's fine to drink

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If you've been thinking the tap water in Tempe smells and tastes a bit musty, you're not imagining things. Despite that, however, the city wants to assure its residents that the water is perfectly safe to drink.

The city changed that way it treats water over the weekend in order to effectively deal with "an influx of mud and particulates caused by recent stormwater runoff in the Sunflower Fire burn area."

In order to effectively treat water that contains muddy runoff, the city has temporarily stopped using activated carbon powder. It's that powder that alleviates the musty smell and taste, which is caused by compounds produced by algae.

While algae byproducts can affect the smell and taste of water, the city insists "they have no adverse health effects."

"Tempe’s drinking water continues to meet all Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and is absolutely safe to drink," readers the city's website.

Last week's intense storms in the area burned by the Sunflower Fire sent runoff containing quite a bit of mud and high levels of particulates into the Verde River and Salt River Projects canals that feed Tempe's water treatment plants.

With more storms in the forecast, the city of Tempe says it probably will not return to using activated carbon until the weekend.

If the "earthy" taste of the water bothers you, the city suggests using a carbon filtration pitcher, chilling your water and adding lemon slices.