SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg is home to Lake Bowen, a reservoir where much of the county’s drinking water comes from. Recently it was reported that fish were seen bobbing to the surface, creating concern for nearby residents.
“Our crews were on the water until after dark looking and observing and then DNR actually came on Friday morning and brought their full team to do an investigation,” said Jennifer Candler, Spartanburg Water.
On Thursday Spartanburg Water crews applied algaecide at the lake to address natural compounds released by algae in the reservoirs. They were specifically targeting a compound called geosmin, which is harmless but can produce an unwanted taste for drinking water.
“Completely harmless but can in elevated levels cause an earthy taste or odor that many of us are sensitive to, so in order to prevent that we have regular monitoring, very very careful monitoring,” said Candler.
It was shortly after the application that watershed crews noticed one inch and two inch sized shad, a species of fish, floating nearby. Officials gathered data from this fish loss and reported it to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. With Lake Bowen serving as a source for drinking water in the county, some nearby residents had concerns.
But others said this doesn’t bother them.
“It’s a huge body of water, it’s bigger than most people would think,” said John Smoody, nearby resident. “The way they have it set up here and the way they protect it I feel very confident.”
Spartanburg Water said they’re getting ready to introduce an advanced oxidation system online by the end of May, something that will aid in this kind of issue.
“What that will provide is, allow us to not have to do as many algaecide applications in the future, it’ll still be a part of that strategy if we do continue to see an uptick in taste and odor,” said Candler.
Officials said their findings will be complete in 30 days and will then be released to the public.
Spartanburg Water said they have lake alerts and text messages that can be set up for nearby residents who would like to receive them in situations like this.