Water Quality Issues for Western Laurens Customers

Posted on Jul 17, 2019 in GeneralInfo, News

Potential Taste and Odor Water Problem (For Customers in Western Laurens County Only)

The Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission (LCWSC) is receiving calls concerning an earthy taste and/or smell in the potable water from residents living in parts of western Laurens County (Hwy 252 and Hwy 76 vicinity), the area that receives water the LCWSC purchases from the Laurens CPW.    

The Laurens CPW issued the following statement to GoLaurens.com on July 29, 2019:

It appears that the water in Lake Rabon is getting worse. Lab results indicated that the level of geosmin in the lake has increased significantly from 33 ng/L (nanograms/liter) on July 8 to 434 ng/L on July 24. The level at which humans can taste and smell geosmin is 7-10 ng/L.

We have been working with consultants and suppliers to identify the most effective treatment process to deal with the geosmin. As a result, we hope to start introducing a product called Earth Tech. We asked S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control last Wednesday for a temporary permit on this process and we hope to hear from them this week.

In addition to this, we have been testing various types and quantities of carbon. One variety called Hydrodarco, manufactured by the Cabot Corporation, seemed to work best at removing geosmin. It reduced the level from 432 ng/L to 35.6 ng/L. While that is still in the detectable range for humans (7-10 ng/L), we think a combination of this and the Earth Tech will finally solve the problem. We are in the process of ordering the carbon and engineering the delivery system. All of which will need an additional permit from SCDHEC.

Again, we apologize for the length of time this process has taken. Please be assured that all available resources are being devoted to solving this problem. We ask for continued patience while we work through this event.


The Laurens CPW issued the following press release on July 16, 2019:

Laurens CPW Water Quality Issue Press Release

Laurens, S.C. – The Laurens CPW received the independent lab’s tests results late yesterday regarding the recent water quality issue. The test results indicate that there are high levels of Geosmin in the water at Lake Rabon. Geosmin is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma produced by certain microorganisms. It is commonly present in most lakes and ponds at varying levels. It is responsible for the earthy scent that occurs in the air when rain falls after a dry spell of weather or when soil is disturbed. Geosmin can be detected by humans at very low levels. It produces a musty, earthy smell and taste in drinking water, however it is not harmful in drinking water.

“The last time we had a major Geosmin issue was back in 2009. The levels were much higher back then and consequently, the taste and odor was much worse”, said John Young, CPW general manager. “ We suspect that alternating heavy rains and very high temperatures in recent weeks account for the rise in Geosmin in the lake. We understand how disruptive this problem has been. We ask everyone to please remain patient with us we work through this situation.”, Young went on to say.

Having determined the source of the problem, the CPW now plans to implement changes in its treatment process to remedy the situation. “We are working with our suppliers and consultants to determine the specific type of carbon that we need and the dosage required to treat the Geosmin, said Will Patterson, CPW Water/Sewer Superintendent. “If we use the wrong treatment process or use dosages too high or too low, we could make the problem even worse”, Patterson went on to say.

LCWSC would like to stress that Geosmin is not harmful in drinking water and that the water is safe, although some of our customers will likely find it disagreeable. 

We regret the significant inconvenience this event has and will cause and appreciate your patience as the Laurens CPW works to correct this problem.  We will post updates as they become available

Please see the map of the LCWSC service area that may be affected by Geosmin.