Why you may have noticed a change in the taste and smell of Aquidneck Island drinking water

PORTSMOUTH — Have you noticed a change in the smell or taste of your drinking water? You're not alone.

Jessica Lynch, general manager and chief engineer of the Portsmouth Water and Fire District, told The Daily News the department has received "a few complaints about taste and odor of the drinking water" and explained why it could be happening.

Portsmouth purchases all of its water from the Newport Water Division, which draws its raw water supply from a system of nine surface water reservoirs: Lawton Valley Reservoir, Sisson Pond and St. Mary’s Pond in Portsmouth; Nonquit Pond in Tiverton; Watson Reservoir in Little Compton; North and South Easton Ponds in Middletown and Newport; and Paradise Pond and Gardner Pond in Middletown.

The Lawton Valley Water Treatment Facility is on West Main Road in Portsmouth.
The Lawton Valley Water Treatment Facility is on West Main Road in Portsmouth.

While the drought conditions this summer have not impacted the water supply, Lynch said, the dry summer did have an effect on the water's taste and smell. She pointed to four main causes:

• The water conservation recommendations under the Drought Advisory could increase taste and odor issues within the system.

• In a sudden heavy rain event, the watershed may rapidly runoff into the reservoirs and spike levels of contaminants in the water.

• Warmer water requires more treatment chemicals, specifically disinfectants (i.e., Chlorine), which may result in some noticeable chlorine taste and odor.

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• Warmer water results in intensified dissolution of nutrients, dissolved metals, increased algae growth, and other factors that can impact taste and odor.

Other communities on Aquidneck Island, as well as Naval Station Newport, are likely experiencing similar issues with the water, Lynch said. She stressed the drinking water is safe.

"The quality of our water has been certified to meet or exceed all requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act," Lynch said. "Both the Portsmouth Water District and Newport Water Department are committed to providing our customers with safe drinking water that meets all (Environmental Protection Agency) and state drinking water standards."

This article originally appeared on Newport Daily News: Portsmouth, RI, drinking water taste, smell impacted by drought