Melbourne to test water system after tap water complaints

Residents say tap water smells "earthy'

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MELBOURNE, Fla. – Melbourne plans to flush out and re-test its water distribution system for bacteria and other contaminants throughout the week.

This processs is costing the city more than $10,000 to try to ease customers worried about weird smelling water, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

The tests are the city's latest response to complaints of tap water that smells strange and reportedly like mold. The complaints accompany the health concerns in the wake of a toxic algae bloom in Lake Washington, the city's main water supply.

Fears about the water spawned from an algae bloom this summer in Lake Washington, which provides two-thirds of the water supply for Melbourne's 57,000 water customer connections, triggering lots of frustrated calls to city officials and a recent town hall discussion.

The water tests started Monday, at sites throughout the city's water distribution system. City officials this method is to make sure every neighborhood is included.

"We do these same tests continuously throughout the year," Cheryl Mall, the city's spokeswoman, said. "Every one of these sites is tested once a month. We are doing this testing in addition to our regular testing."

City Manager Shannon Lewis in an email to the City Council said the city has contracted with Flowers Chemical Laboratories Inc., of Altamonte Springs, "to conduct a system wide third party analysis of bacteriological and water quality parameters for the water distribution system."

The $10,660 effort will include 129 regular monthly distribution samples, Lewis said, and the system point-of-entry (POE) to the distribution system at the treatment plant site, for a total of 130 sample points. 

The tests will include coliform/E.coli bacteria, calcium, alkalinity, chlorine residual, pH, temperature and specific conductivity.

City officials expect the whole process will take two or three weeks, depending on weather. Crews started to flush the water system and analyze chlorine levels Aug. 10, progressing in advance of the sampling crew based on an assigned schedule.