Officials in Everett are working to address an algae bloom in the reservoir that serves as the drinking source for about 80 percent of Snohomish County.
Staff at the city's Public Works Department say the algae bloom in the Lake Chaplain Reservoir has caused some customers to experience a fishy smell and metallic taste when they drink the water.
But officials say it's important to note: The algae bloom poses no health concerns.
"The water is safe to drink," said Kathleen Baxter with the city's Public Works Department. "But we are happy people are letting us know about the taste and odor, because we want to fix the problem sooner than later and take care of it."
The algae present in the current bloom is called Uroglena, and it has been found in other drinking water reservoirs around the region in the past. The last time it affected Everett's water system was back in 2015.
"I guess I can taste kind of a metal aftertaste," said Everett resident Jamie Schroeder. "But it's good to know it's not harmful."
Others told KING 5 the smell has been more noticeable than the taste.
"A little fishy smell," said Marilyn Harbert, who said she uses a filtration system on the drinking water in her home, but noticed the smell when she was using the hose to water her yard.
"Wondering if it was safe to drink or safe to use, or what it really meant," she said. "I have all these visions of green scum."
City officials say they understand that concern, and that's why they're taking proactive steps to address the issue.
To help combat the taste and smell of the water, crews started moving water from the Spada Lake Reservoir into the water filtration process. The secondary reservoir doesn't have the same algae as the primary water source.
The blend of water from both reservoirs is expected to improve the taste and smell of water for those who have noticed it.
“We haven’t heard from very many of our customers about this, but it’s possible that people with sensitive palates or senses of smell could detect it,” said Dave Davis, public works director. “We’re monitoring the situation on a daily basis and responding with appropriate measures to meet our customers’ expectations for water quality.”
They're also testing the water on a daily basis.
"Algae is plant life and it takes advantage of climate conditions such as sunshine and, in the case of our reservoir, its particular elevation and size and depth," said Baxter. "And it starts to grow, and if the conditions are right, it grows a lot."
But she said customers should notice an improvement in the drinking water within a week.
In the meantime, for those people with a particularly sensitive palate or sense of smell, Baxter said a carbon-based water filter should help.
"Usually this sort of thing passes within a week or two, and in this case, it might be a little less because we did the dilution factor," she said, referring to the water now being used from the Spade Lake Reservoir.
The Everett water system supplies water to about 600,000 people or 80 percent of the businesses and residents of Snohomish County through a network of local water providers.