Oxygenation: A deep breath for our lakes   

  • Spartanburg Water has excellent water sources for drinking water from both the North and South Pacolet Rivers.

  • Spartanburg Water added a new technology, called oxygenation, to its toolbox in 2016 to support the drinking water for our community serving 180,000 people in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties.

  • The reservoirs utilized by Spartanburg Water had an episode of high MIB levels in Fall 2015 and until Spartanburg Water applied an environmentally friendly algaecide that dropped the levels back down to zero.

  • Adding additional oxygen to the drinking water reservoirs, Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir Number 1, enhanced the balance of the ecosystem. The improvements to the oxygen levels provides a number of benefits, such as more fish and healthier algal growth.

  • This is an important part of our continuing strategy to provide excellent water quality to our customers and combat the algae that create taste-and-odor causing organisms, like Methyl-Isoborneol, or MIB.

  • Oxygenation reduces phosphorus levels and eliminates the oxygen-depleted areas of the reservoirs’ deep pools.These enhancements helps Spartanburg Water ensure balance in the reservoir ecosystems and further enhance the source water that is being provided for drinking water. The oxygenation system delivers a constant feed of oxygen, ferric and alum through a strategically placed piping system along the bottom of the water bodies.

  • In water bodies, algae blooms that create taste and odor constituents such as MIB typically grow as the result of a combination of factors: prolonged hot weather, a lack of rain and high levels of nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen, in the watershed runoff.

  • Algae blooms result from “eutrophication,” the process by which a body of water acquires a high concentration of nutrients, especially phosphates and nitrates. These nutrients typically promote excessive growth of algae.

  • A majority of algae are beneficial to ecosystems and are a natural part of the environment and good for the lakes and fish. We also have new technology in our lab that helps us classify the types of algae that may cause taste-and-odor concerns, thus allowing us to target our efforts.

  • We know that we can’t control the weather but we can address the nutrient loadings throughout the reservoir and the absence of oxygen which are the main drivers of algal growth. The oxygenation system is a best-practice in the preventive strategies needed to cut MIB off at its actual source—the algae that create it.

  • Although MIB and algae are a natural part of the life cycle of an ecosystem, they can also make a big impact on taste and odor. That’s why we’re meeting that strength with a powerful plan of our own—and that starts with oxygenation.

  • In addition to restricting algal growth that can welcome the presence of MIB, oxygenation provides a host of other added benefits: It can quickly relieve ‘anoxia,’ or a lack of oxygen, which will certainly make for a healthier ecosystem and an improved fish habitat, not to mention the overall water quality. We believe that this is the most responsible and healthy way to combat something like MIB.

For a video explaining the oxygenation process, click here.