Holding their noses Aberdeen's new water: City residents say Harford County supply has bad smell, taste.


WHEN THE CITY of Aberdeen reached an agreement with Harford County to obtain badly needed extra water supplies in July, officials merrily toasted the accord with county-supplied water in champagne glasses.

But for the past two months, many Aberdeen water customers have been holding their noses as they quaff the new supply that runs through their pipes. It stinks and tastes musty, they complain. Merely a matter of taste and becoming accustomed to it, the county replies. Besides, Harford maintains there is no safety hazard and there is no government standard for these subjective judgments.

The cause of the disagreeable water is a seasonal explosion of algae blooms in the Susquehanna River, a condition exacerbated by the summer drought. The river water quality could be improved by adding chemicals at the treatment plant, but that was not done.

The source of the county's promised water actually comes from the Havre de Grace city treatment plant; Harford was already obligated by contract to pay for a minimum amount of water from the city's plant. Because of cost and pumping connections, that Havre de Grace water was directed to Aberdeen.

Last month Aberdeen officials turned off the county water supply to its residential customers. They complained to Harford County that Havre de Grace has been unresponsive to the problem, which experts say could be resolved by adding about $14 of carbon purifier to the batch each day.

Harford says it is willing to work with Havre de Grace on improving water quality. But it makes no commitment to Aberdeen customers, whose taste buds have been offended by the new supplies, because the water meets health standards.

Aberdeen dearly needed additional water supplies and the county helped out the city. Now the city appears ungrateful for that help. But Harford knew of taste-odor problems with Havre de Grace water that went to county customers in past years, yet took no steps to require additional treatment by Havre de Grace.

The Aberdeen pipes will be cleared of the off-taste aqua by December. We urge Harford to clear up the carbon treatment issue with Havre de Grace well before then.

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