HEY! lowT Gimenez, the Miami-Dade water "containing notes of freshly mopped public bathroom" by MiamiHerald

Miami Herald:

The icky taste of your tap water is temporary while pipes get cleaned

The flavor has been described as reminiscent of a swimming pool, containing notes of freshly mopped public bathroom, with a pungent bouquet of bleach and old-sponge accents sure to tickle the olfactory nerves.

Miami’s tap water has never pretended to be fine wine, but for two weeks every year, depending on your palate, it can taste quite gross.

“I’ve noticed a really, really foul odor, like sewage,” said Angela Rosario, who lives in Coral Gables. “Even when I washed my hands with soap I couldn’t get rid of the smell. The taste was not nice. Just undrinkable.”

Through Sunday, the 2.3 million people connected to the county’s system may notice that their tap water tastes and smells different. That’s because the department temporarily changed the method used to chlorinate the drinking water supply at its three treatment plants.
Free chlorine, instead of the standard combined chlorine, or chloramine, is used during the annual two-week process — which was publicized well before the Nov. 4 start date. Free chlorine is a stronger disinfectant and bleaching agent than the chloramine used 50 weeks of the year.

“We can’t take water from the Biscayne Aquifer, pump it into homes and say, ‘Drink up!’” said Jennifer Messemer-Skold, spokeswoman for the water and sewer department. “Your water has to be treated. Over time, a bio-film can coat the pipes. It is standard utility practice to use chlorine to periodically remove the film to prevent buildup of potentially harmful disinfectant byproducts.”

The annual cleansing provokes a flurry of complaints but preserves water quality over time.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article237264114.html#storylink=cpy
“I know that normally there is a chlorine smell when they clean yearly, but this time the smell has been worse,” said Rosario, who had trouble getting an explanation when she called Coral Gables City Hall and the county’s water department. She was told to run her faucets for two minutes, wait 15 minutes and repeat to purge the smell, which was incorrect advice.

“It freaked me out this time because I have a cancer patient in the house and I’m afraid of infections. We also have a huge construction project going on nearby and I was worried that a pipe was broken.”

As an extra line of defense against pollutants and pathogens, Rosario uses water filters. She refuses to buy bottled water because of the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. She moved to Miami 21 years ago from Germany and has never been a fan of American tap water.

“It’s not a fair comparison but Germany is known for its high quality mineral water sources and care in avoiding chlorine,” she said. “People from Europe find the infrastructure to be way behind here. It’s like a third world country with all the power lines above ground, and when I have visitors they can’t believe we still have septic tanks.

“So maybe I’m extra cautious about the water.”

Miami-Dade is proud of its drinking water. Forbes Magazine once ranked the Miami metropolis No. 4 in the nation for cleanest tap water. At a blind taste test in April, Miami-Dade’s water was judged the best by a panel of regional experts from the American Waterworks Association.
“We’re lucky to get our water — 300 million gallons a day — from the Biscayne Aquifer, which is like a freshwater lake beneath our feet,” Messemer-Skold said. “I grew up here, drinking from the hose when I was outside. It’s very safe because the county has been proactive about protecting our source and preventing certain types of industries from locating near our wellfields.

The county tests its water 150,000 times per year in order to meet standards set by the EPA and state health and environmental agencies.

Yet Americans love bottled water, buying about 14 billion gallons of it last year for $19 billion. Only a quarter of plastic water bottles get recycled, which means they are cluttering our landfills — for at least 450 years to come, given their lifespan. About 270,000 tons of plastic infest our oceans, according to the United Nations. Microplastics have become a major source of contamination in seafood. Making bottled water also requires the wasteful use of water and oil in the production process.

Bottled water isn’t necessarily healthier, safer or purer than tap water, even though that’s the main marketing strategy aimed at consumers fearful of unsafe tap water. In fact, 45 percent of bottled water is tap water.

“Some brands get their water from utilities, so why not get 1,000 gallons of our water for less than the $3 they charge you for one bottle?” Messemer-Skold said. “People can buy whatever spring water or filtered water they want but they should know that utilities must follow much more stringent regulations than the bottled water industry. Where does your bottled water really come from? How long has it been in that plastic bottle? What’s the chain of custody for that shipment?”

While Miami-Dade residents may complain during the annual cleanse, water is still a healthy bargain here compared to other parts of the world, where 2.1 billion people lack access to safe water, according to Water Mission, a nonprofit organization that builds water and sanitation facilities in developing countries and disaster zones.

“People take water for granted,” Messemer-Skold said. “They shouldn’t.”

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