BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board in Alabama released a statement earlier this week to residents concerning the safety of drinking water in the area. 

Continued public testing and worry follows Tyson Foods Inc.’s release of partially treated effluent into the Black Warrior River and Mulberry Fork in Alabama earlier in June. The spill came from a nearby rendering facility owned by the company in Hanceville, Alabama.

The statement said that “the unusual taste and odor recently present in Jasper’s drinking water is caused by naturally occurring compounds produced by algae and similar types of microorganisms which inhabit the water source for the Jasper Water Works & Sewer Board’s (JWWSB) water treatment plant on Mulberry Fork.”

The Water Works stated it found geosmin and 2-Methyl-Isoborneol (MIB) and the compounds are noticeable in drinking water when present even in extremely small concentrations. The note also said that it exceeded all health-related regulatory requirements and will perform more water quality testing.  

“While the drinking water has remained safe throughout this taste and odor issue, JWWSB will continue to perform water quality testing and treatment to ensure safe drinking water,” the statement concluded.

State officials conservatively estimated 175,000 fish were killed following the spill.

In a June 14 investigation, the Alabama Dept. of Environmental Management (ADEM) said dead fish could be observed as far as 40 miles downstream from the facility. The department then reported depressed levels of dissolved oxygen up to 22 miles downstream from the facility. ADEM also said, “the release was reportedly due to the failure of an above-ground hose/pipe that was being used to pump the partially treated wastewater from one holding pond to another holding pond.”

When the initial spill was reported Tyson released a statement saying it deeply regretted the incident and that it would work diligently and cooperatively with the ADEM and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“We are working to make things right, and have an environmental contractor on-site and in the waterways, actively working on cleanup and the collection of fish impacted by this incident,” the Tyson statement said.

The Sispey Heritage Commission announced on June 18 that it will be suing Tyson Foods over the incident.

According to the group’s Facebook post, it will be suing over “the assault” on the Black Warrior River. Attorney Jud Allen will be the lead attorney for the group.