Water Odor Plagues Cobblestone

Winnsboro: No Health Risk

BLYTHEWOOD (Feb. 11, 2016) – The Town of Winnsboro’s Water Department continues to investigate complaints of odoriferous and unpleasant tasting water in homes in the Cobblestone neighborhood, sending samples to an outside laboratory in Florida for testing.

Blythewood Town Council briefly discussed the issue during their Jan. 25 meeting and said residents with serious concerns should consider having their water tested independently.

“This is substantive,” Mayor J. Michael Ross, who lives in Cobblestone, said. “This isn’t one person. About two dozen residents say their water is not right. They are pretty specific about the water (problems). The Flint, Mich. thing hasn’t helped.”

Ed Parler, Blythewood’s Economic Development Consultant, said the first complaints surfaced on Dec. 18. Parler, who also lives in Cobblestone, said early complaints involved a high mineral content in the water. His own water, he said, ‘did not taste like it should.’

Ross said the Town of Winnsboro has reported to Council consistently throughout the investigation and a representative from the Water Department may address the issue at Council’s next meeting.

“A couple of people approached me about it,” Councilman Tom Utroska said, “and when I asked them if they’d had their water tested, they said, ‘No.’ My next comment was, ‘If you’re concerned you can get it tested. I don’t think the town (government) needs to do it’.”

Otis Williams, Director of Winnsboro’s Water Department, said this week that so far preliminary tests have turned up no bacteriological issues, and the issue posed no health risk.

The issue appears to be isolated to the Cobblestone neighborhood, Williams said, and only to a handful of homes. In some of those homes, he said, the issue was isolated to one or two faucets, and the foul odor and taste dissipated after running the water for a few moments.

That could mean the problem is an internal plumbing issue, Williams said, although he stressed that was only speculation at this point. Williams said when work crews have opened hydrants in the area, they have not found any odor in the water.

The Cobblestone neighborhood does have a lot of new and ongoing construction, Williams said, with a lot of dead-end lines. With those lines not yet part of a regular loop, the water in those areas does not get flushed as quickly or as often. The issue only arose after the end of summer, he said, after the end of the high-use season, so any flushing those lines did get stopped then.

Williams also said there could potentially be a type of algae in the reservoir that is so small it escapes normal filtration and treatment processes. That algae is harmless, he said, and typically goes unnoticed – unless lines do not get flushed regularly, in which case the decay of the algae can produce an odor and taste in the water.

“But I don’t think that’s the case,” Williams added. “We’re just covering our bases. If it were the case, it would be widespread; there would have been reports in Mid-County’s water and others. But we haven’t seen that.”

Winnsboro crews are aggressively flushing the lines in the area, Williams said, while test results for the potential algae are pending. In the meantime, he said, all preliminary investigations show there to be no health risk and no widespread problem.

Residents who would like to send their water to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for testing should visit the department’s website at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/YourHomeEnvironmentalandSafetyConcerns/DrinkingWaterConcerns/TestingYourWater/

Barbara Ball contributed to this story.


Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]