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Officials identify smell; stress Bingen water is safe to drink

Hydrogen sulfide is the culprit

Hydrogen sulfide is the culprit.

Bingen city officials are reporting that hydrogen sulfide is the source of the smell plaguing Bingen's municipal water supply.

According to a news release dated Aug. 8, the city of Bingen has just completed several tests over the last month to address concerns regarding the odor and taste of Bingen's water.

The bottom line is, the water produced by the three Bingen wells is safe to drink.

Here is the bulk of what the city's water report stated: "The city has been relying wholly on the three city wells to provide water for its citizens. This water contains hydrogen sulfide which can have a sulfur and sometimes a `sewer' smell," it read. "Hydrogen sulfide is formed by sulfur bacteria that may occur naturally in water. These bacteria use the sulfur in decaying plants, rocks, or soil as their food or energy source, and as a byproduct produce hydrogen sulfide. The sulfur bacteria do not cause disease, but their presence in water can cause a bad taste or odor ... Hydrogen sulfide can be found in both shallow and deep wells, generally in shale or sandstone. Additional water tests done for coliform bacteria analysis came back as `satisfactory; total coliform absent.'"

Bingen officials pointed out that citizens can help to dissipate the water's foul odor and taste by taking the following steps:

Running hot water can make the odor more evident. Water heaters may contain a magnesium rod placed in the tank by the manufacturer to prevent water heater corrosion. Sulfur that is dissolved in water can react with the magnesium forming hydrogen sulfide. The magnesium rod can be replaced with an aluminum one or removed completely. Removal of the rod, however, may void the company's warranty;

Trace amounts of hydrogen sulfide can be removed with activated carbon filters placed at a faucet, under a sink, or as it enters the home. The frequency of replacement will depend on daily water use and the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the water; and

Filling a pitcher full of water and letting it set will also make the water more drinkable.

The city plans to investigate methods to reduce the impact of having hydrogen sulfide in its water.

"This will involve hiring an engineer to consider a number of factors related to the city's water system," read the city's news release. "We feel it is important to be self-sufficient in meeting our residents' and business needs for safe drinking water. We are also looking at the city's future water needs and how to best meet them."


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