If you are a Frankfort Plant Board customer, the water coming out of your tap is safe to drink, the utility insists.

FPB officials said Thursday that the water is safe to use, despite taste and odor issues. The officials said they wanted to dispel rumors running rampant on social media. 

The foul taste and odor is a result of low-flow conditions in the Kentucky River, from which FPB draws its water. The National Weather Service said the river was at 6.7 feet on Thursday afternoon at the Frankfort lock. 

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“We’ve been very open and transparent about the taste and odor that we are having and other utilities on the river are having,” said David Billings, the director of water operations for the Plant Board.

FPB posted about a musty, earthy or dirty taste and odor Thursday, Sept. 12, on its website. Kentucky American Water, which supplies water to other cities in central Kentucky, noted reports of a similar taste and odor on its Facebook page

To alleviate some of the odd taste and odor, customers can change out the ice in their ice makers, put drinking water in the fridge before using it or flush lines out at their homes after not using the system for six or so hours, said Billings, who drank a cup of FPB tap water in front of reporters on Thursday.

Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Julie Roney said that record-setting hot temperatures have also played a factor in the issues. NWS puts the average summer temperature for Frankfort at about 75 degrees from 1981 to 2010. The high during that same time frame was about 86 degrees. The average high for August 2019 was 87 degrees and the month had 11 days above 90 degrees. 

Billings and Roney said that the clear-up for the issue is “weather-dependent,” as cooler weather and rainfall would be the game changer. In the meantime, FPB has been performing treatment optimization to react to the changing river conditions and it will continue to do that to “put out the best product that we possibly can,” Billings said. 

FPB has been fielding some false accusations on social media in the past week. One post had over 570 shares as of Thursday evening from user Edward Conway, who claimed that FPB had black mold in its water pipes.

Roney said that FPB “has no indication that the water leaving this plant has black mold in it.” 

“Don't drink the tap water if you live in Frankfort,” the post read. “Shame on you fpb you have an obligation to let people know that the water has black mold in the pipes. Everyone that reads this should call the Frankfort plant board and fuss”

Conway declined to say who told him about the black mold as that person "would be fired on the spot. I trust him or I would have never wrote what I wrote." 

FPB Chief Operating Officer Vent Foster said that putting false information out on social media can cause an unwarranted public scare. 

“Don’t just pass on information. It creates public issues for people when there is nothing there. It’s kind of that same idea of yelling fire in a theater. Just be cautious of misinformation,” Foster said. “Reach out to the Division of Water, reach out to the Frankfort Plant Board, reach out to those kinds of things if you have concerns and get your answers from folks who would know rather than somebody else.” 

FPB has received about 50 calls a day over the past week related to the taste and odor issue. Spokesperson Cathy Lindsey said that businesses and restaurants have called the Plant Board out of concern over the rumors. 

Lindsey said that another common question FPB is getting is why customers haven’t experienced something like this before from a drought.

“No drought is the same. River conditions are constantly changing… We are experiencing these temperatures. Again, they are are record-setting temperatures. We are talking about 40-something days of 90-degree weather and we average about 19 for the whole year that are above 90 degrees,” Lindsey said. 

The Kentucky Division of Water has received some complaints over the water and has been in contact with FPB about them. In an email to Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, DoW Director Peter Goodman also attributed the taste and odor issue to low flow in the Kentucky River and hot temperatures. 

“There is no public health issue associated with the occurrence of these compounds in drinking water. This condition is strictly an aesthetics (taste and odor) issue, and, as such, is not a non-compliant condition,” Goodman wrote. “Contrary to reports on some social media outlets, these taste and odor issues are not the result of black mold occurring in the distribution system.”

For further information, contact the Plant Board at 502-352-4372.

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