West Lake, which supplies water to the city of Osceola, is experiencing late season algae issues, requiring increased treatment and causing a change in the treatment needs of the city’s drinking water.
Osceola Water Works crews detected a large algae bloom in West Lake on November 7, prompting a necessary late treatment of West Lake. An algae bloom of this size and scope is exceptionally unusual for this time of year, with mid-September being the standard last algae treatment needed. Some customers may have noticed a change in the taste of the water, but the Osceola Water Works department acted quickly to make the necessary adjustments that corrected the issue.
Unfortunately, because these algae blooms are happening so late in the season, the chemical budget has been hit hard. Over the last four years, the treatment applied to control algae hasn’t occurred past September 20. While the costs of the chemicals themselves haven’t changed, the need to purchase more chemicals in an amount necessary to create a quality product for the residents of Osceola is depleting the chemical budget and will have an impact on future budget needs.
West Lake has a large amount of nutrient loading in the lake and this attributes to the increased quantity and size of algae blooms we have been experiencing lately,” said Brandon Patterson, Osceola Water Works Superintendent. “Our customers want and deserve a quality product, but this is a very costly task with the degrading quality of the raw water we deal with at West Lake.”
The team at Osceola Water Works is currently working on a solution to help combat the rising costs of chemically treating the water they have to pull from West Lake. Installing a different kind of carbon that is more suited to treating poor-quality raw surface water is one solution being researched. The Water Works Department continues to look for ways to absorb increased costs, but, unfortunately, because of the increased costs to treat water quality issues, they will again be faced with the tough decision to ask the Water Board about raising rates.
We need the community to continue to support the Clarke County Reservoir Commission’s efforts to construct a new reservoir so Water Works doesn’t have all our eggs in one basket, so to speak,” said Patterson. “We would be able to pull water from the new reservoir during the summer months, during algae issues at West Lake, and start the treatment process in the transmission line. This would relieve the strain on the treatment process at the plant and help reduce costs. We currently do not have this option, with West Lake’s close proximity to the treatment plant. We are trying to plan ahead for the community, so they can rely on having a quality water source for years to come.”