Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Cobb’s stinky water problem seems to have gotten better

For Cobb County, the level of stink has sunk.

For a couple weeks, half of the 900,000 customers served by the Cobb County‐Marietta Water Authority were at risk of water that was safe but smelly.

Hundreds of folks a day called the county in early September and described their water as having a musty or earthy odor, officials said.

Glenn Page, general manager of the CCMWA — which serves Cobb, Paulding and Cherokee counties along with Mountain Park — said Wednesday that the county hadn’t gotten any calls with complaints so far this week.

The water came from Allatoona Lake near Acworth, but it was another city that got the brunt of the bad smell.


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“It seemed to have been the worse in Kennesaw. I don’t know why that is,” he said.

The smell is caused by high water temperatures due to a month of less-than-usual rain and the lowering of the water level ahead of expected winter precipitation.

Page was hoping for some rain from the wide and powerful Hurricane Florence weeks ago, but he said they got less than half an inch.

Higher water temperatures means things break down (or decompose) more easily. Stinky compounds come off of microorganisms.

The organic compounds causing the smell are geosmin and 2-Methylisoborneol. They are what gives vegetables and and catfish their musty, murky tastes.

Page said people start to smell them at six nanograms per liter. That level was at four earlier this month according to the most recent tests, he said Wednesday. That’s down from a high of 13.8 nanograms per liter on Sept. 7, he added.


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The funk has subsided not because the levels in the lake have gotten that much better; Page said it’s because of their efforts to curb the stank.

Crews have been pulling more water from a station that pulls from  the Chattahoochee River instead of Allatoona Lake.

The CCMWA workers have also been putting more water through their activated carbon system. Those are like the filtration systems in refrigerators, but there’s 28 of them at 40 feet tall.

It’s hard to estimate the cost of the continuing treatments, Page said, but he’s happy to see lower temperatures in the forecast, considering fall (allegedly) just began.

“We have had cooler temperatures for a few days, and they’re supposed to stay in the low 80s,” he said.


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Meteorologist Karen Minton has your Thursday afternoon weather forecast.

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