If you think your tap water tastes a little funny, you’re not alone. The Lodi Public Works Department has received several complaints recently about metallic-tasting water, and city workers are flushing water lines and hydrants a little more often these days to fix the problem.
“We have gotten a few calls about the taste of the water in the last several months,” said Larry Parlin, deputy Public Works director. “It’s a calcium build-up issue.”
The change can be traced to the city’s new water treatment plant, which pulls water from the Mokelumne River. The system went online in November and now produces a third of the city’s water.
The switch to using surface water was a big change for Lodi’s pipes.
In the oldest parts of town, the water has been flowing in one direction for 80 years or more. The pipes are still in reasonably good shape.
With the addition of the treatment plant, the flow through some pipes changed direction. That flow reversal means some bits and pieces, formerly stuck to the pipe through force of the water, are scaling off the metal and flowing along.
Parlin said those bits are mostly calcium deposits. Hard water, like that from our groundwater basin, contains calcium that builds up on pipes like the spots on a car’s windshield. There are no health risks associated with the scaling, said Parlin, though it can cause a metallic taste.
Reversing the flow is actually good for the city’s pipes, said Lonnie Wass, a supervising engineer for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
“In terms of the flow of the pipes, calcium build-up actually restricts flow,” he said.
Sloughing off the calcium is more of a nuisance for your fixtures than a real concern for your health.
“The main problem is the plugging of screens in faucets, or in your washing machine. The calcium itself won’t hurt you,” Wass said.
Those bits of calcium should be out of the system entirely in a few weeks. Just to be careful, city staff are flushing various pipes and hydrants throughout the city to clear out any debris.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.