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Odd smell in Austin’s tap water likely caused by zebra mussels, city says

Friday, February 8, 2019 by Andy Jechow, KUT

If you think your tap water smells strange today, you’re not alone.

South and Central Austin residents began noticing the unusual smell Thursday morning. Austin Water initially said work on a waterline was to blame, but in an afternoon update, the utility said it was likely caused by the presence of zebra mussels in a raw water pipeline.

The line is at the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant just southwest of Lake Austin, which became infested with zebra mussels about a year ago. The line had been turned off for two weeks, but returned to service Wednesday.

There is no threat to the water and it’s safe for customers to drink, Austin Water spokesperson Ginny Guerrero said.

Austin Water is adding activated carbon to help with the odor as well as flushing water lines in the affected areas.

The utility says it expects the issue to be resolved in the next 24 hours.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Larry D. Hodge/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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