Turns out, it wasn't their imaginations: Public health authorities say a nearby wildfire burning in a drainage basin contributed the sooty aroma to the town's drinking water.
The Dalles Chronicle reports the fire dropped burning debris into the stream.
Aside from the aesthetic issues, authorities say the water poses no health risks.
The city is considering mixing in well water from city reservoirs to dilute the water affected by the fire. They are also evaluating options at the local water treatment plant.