Loveland water supply affected by algae bloom

LOVELAND, Colo. -- There's something in the water in Loveland that has made it unbearable for some residents to drink and even smell.

"If I wanted to drink lake water, I would walk down to the lake with my bucket," a resident said. "I get out of the shower and smell like lake water. I pull clothes out of the washing machine and they smell like they've been washed in a lake. It's gnarly."

The city's water treatment manager said it's from an algae bloom that has surfaced in the water supply at Green Ridge Glade Reservoir and was caused by the floods in 2013.

"After the flood, we had huge influxes of nutrients. We actually had a different species of algae introduced and it is much harder to kill and reproduces much quicker," water treatment manager Scott Dickmeyer said.

About 25 percent of the population cannot taste or smell the compound that comes from the algae, and the water is still mostly clear.

"Five molecules of this taste and odor compound in about a trillion molecules of water is detectable by a majority of the population, so it doesn't take much for people to smell it or even taste it in their water," Dickmeyer said.

The city and health department assure the water is safe to drink.

"It is nontoxic," Dickmeyer said. "We did test for algae toxins in this bloom and there were none."

The water treatment plant has worked on mitigating the issue for the past few months. It has applied a peroxide-based algicide with no chemical side effects that is not as effective as harsher chemicals.

It has only been able to keep the algae bloom from growing, but not kill it off.

Dickmeyer also said when the problem first arose, not many residents noticed because they were able to dilute the city's water supply by using the Big Thompson River supply and Green Ridge Glade Reservoir supply.

But the Big Thompson River supply has started to show an algae bloom in the past few weeks, so more residents are noticing the taste and smell.

"We're expecting to continue to still have this problem until the first frost," he said. "Once the reservoir turns over, the algae tends to die off naturally and then the taste and order will go away."

Water treatment officials are working on some projects for over the winter to prevent this issue from happening in the future.

Dickmeyer said the algae bloom should not cause much discoloration in the city's drinking water.

Anyone experiencing extreme discoloration in the water should call the city of Loveland.