Water Taste / Odor

Update 5/26/2023
Cleveland Utilities received the following statement from TVA and TDEC concerning the water taste/odor concerns:
TVA and TDEC continue to collaborate with Cleveland Utilities, Etowah Utilities, Hiwassee Utilities Commission, and other utilities that purchase from these entities to address the water taste and odor concerns that began in April.

Together, we want you to know:
  1. Daily water plant testing and ongoing TDEC testing do not indicate a health concern. We continue to monitor the water, and if conditions change, the public will be notified immediately. We are not aware of any related concerns regarding recreation on the Hiwassee River.
  2. The source of the earthy taste and odor is from a naturally occurring, algae-compound found in the Hiwassee River.
  3. All parties continue to collect and analyze water samples to identify the cause of the algae and develop potential solutions.
  4. All water flow during the weeks preceding, and also since algae was detected, have been above the minimum amount of flow as set forth in TVA's Reservoir Operations Policy. TVA is continuing to supply water flows that are at or in excess of the required minimum flow.
Rest assured that we are working together to identify the source of the algae and address the community’s concerns.


Update 5/17/2023

Cleveland Utilities (CU) has been diligently working to determine the cause for the water taste and odor changes that have been ongoing since late April.  A large majority of CU’s drinking water supply is from the Hiwassee River just upstream of Charleston, TN.  Since these taste and odor issues have started, CU has and continues to meet all primary drinking water standards of the treated water.

Recent tests indicate the source of the taste and odor issue is primarily 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB or MIB) and is located on the Hiwassee River (upstream of the confluence with the Ocoee River).  Geosmin and MIB are naturally occurring algae-derived compounds often found in surface water supplies (lakes and reservoirs) across the United States. These geosmin and MIB compounds have an earthy/musty taste and odor and are not harmful.  

CU, along with its partners at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) continue to collect and analyze data to gain more information on the cause of the taste and odor issue as well as the quickest way to remedy it. While we continue analyzing the source water, CU has already proactively implemented an additional treatment measure to help minimize the taste and odor changes some customers are experiencing. Additionally, CU is actively identifying potential advanced treatment options to improve the taste and odor while maintaining primary drinking water standards.

Since the City of Cleveland began using the Hiwassee River as a water source almost 70 years ago, CU has never experienced any taste and odor issues with the source water.  CU is very proud of its history in providing quality drinking water to its valued customers.  We are working diligently to improve the situation and will continue to keep you informed. As always, we care and appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this issue.


Update 5/5/2023
Cleveland Utilities (CU) has been evaluating the odor and taste changes of the water CU distributes to its valued customers. The information we have currently indicates the change in taste and odor could be attributed to an algae bloom resulting from lower river levels and warmer temperatures experienced in early April. CU will continue to assess data received from other agencies and monitor conditions of the source water. The water is fully treated and meets all daily standards of public drinking water. Other utilities who source water from the Hiwassee River are experiencing these same changes.

CU is hopeful the river condition will begin normalizing soon. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone’s patience. Feel free to contact us at 423-472-4521 with any questions.


Original Message 4/28/2023
Over the past few days, some Cleveland Utilities’ (CU) customers that receive water from our Hiwassee River water source have reported a strange taste and/or odor in their water. CU is continuing to evaluate information received from other agencies and conditions of the source water at the treatment facilities regarding taste and odor. Per the regulatory testing that is conducted daily on our system, the water meets all standards of public drinking water.

As always, feel free to contact our 24/7 Call Center at 423-472-4521 with any questions or concerns.