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ALGAE THEORY HARD FOR SOME TO SWALLOW

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The complaints have subsided, but officials still don't know why tap-water in areas of Salt Lake and Utah counties tastes and smells musty.

Water system managers aren't completely baffled. The mystery has been isolated to Deer Creek Reservoir, which holds drinking water for both counties. And they think it is an algae buildup in the reservoir.But questions remain: What kind of algae is it, and how is it accumulating in the cold winter months?

"How can it grow when the reservoir is iced over?" asked Sheldon Talbot of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, which is spearheading studies of the problem by experts at Brigham Young University and in Logan.

He said study results should be ready within 10 days.

Meantime, officials in Salt Lake and Utah valleys temporarily have corrected the taste and odor problems, and they stress that the problems and treatment pose no health hazard.

The Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake City has shut its supply of Deer Creek water and flushed its system since complaints flooded its offices earlier this month. Little Cottonwood Creek has been the sole source of water for Metropolitan customers the past few weeks, while experts study the taste and odor problem.

But Little Cottonwood Creek can't handle the increasing water demand of April and May. District Manager Nick Sefakis said chemicals will be used to rid the supply of dank tasting water if a cure isn't found by then.

Utah County has dealt with the problem by chemical treatment, and the complaints have dropped from 30-50 calls a day to about two, said Bruce Chesnut, Orem water division manager.