Fuquay-Varina water foul but safe despite algae

Fuquay-Varina water foul but safe despite algae

Staff WriterSeptember 8, 2005 

Town residents spent the Labor Day weekend dealing with an unexpected batch of smelly, foul-tasting water, the result of an algae problem at a Harnett County plant.

Assistant Town Manager Arthur Mouberry said Harnett public works officials have tested the funky water, which became noticeable a week ago, and concluded that it does not pose a health risk. It's just extremely unpleasant to drink.

The problem developed at the Harnett regional water plant near the Cape Fear River. Officials attribute the algae bloom to low river levels in the Cape Fear and warm weather.

Last Thursday, Fuquay-Varina residents began calling the town to complain that their water had a "dirty, earthy" taste and smell.

At the time, the Wake County town was receiving all its water from Harnett County. The town also has water agreements with Johnston County and the city of Raleigh.

Mouberry said Harnett officials thought they fixed the problem by adding carbons to the reservoir to treat the algae. But the water began to stink again Sunday.

Fuquay-Varina then shut off its waterlines to Harnett County and switched over to Johnston County water.

Fuquay-Varina is now in the process of flushing out the lines that run between the town and the Harnett County plant. Harnett County officials are completely flushing out their reservoir and hope to reopen their waterlines by the end of the week, Mouberry said.

Seven other North Carolina counties that get water from the Harnett plant have been receiving the same tainted water as Fuquay-Varina. Mouberry said Johnston County has also experienced algae problems recently, which caused its water to turn brown.

Tim Paine, a manager at the Ruby Tuesday in Fuquay-Varina, said the water at his restaurant was much improved Wednesday. He said his restaurant sold a lot of bottled water over the weekend.

"It tasted a lot like well water, only a little worse," he said.

Staff writer David Bracken can be reached at 829-4548 or dbracken@newsobserver.com.

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