“We’re going to treat the water near the point where there is a problem,” Hereford said, adding that engineers recommended the city continues to accept water from the surface water treatment plant in Ragland.
Ever since the city began accepting water from the Coosa Valley Water Supply District surface water treatment facility, residents in the Oak Ridge and Mill Village communities have received discolored water. Residents say the water is unfit to bathe in or drink.
Darrell Howell, who addressed the mayor and council at a special called council meeting Thursday, said the water made his children so sick they couldn’t celebrate Christmas.
For the past four months residents in the two communities have received water so discolored, it was impossible to see through a clear drinking glass containing the water.
Hereford told residents he felt for them and wished it was him, not them, receiving the discolored water.
He said city officials are doing everything possible to clear up the problem.
Hereford said expert engineers recommended treating the water to eliminate the discolored water problem.
“We are not experimenting,” he said. “We are doing something that is known to be effective.”
Hereford said there is no timetable, and he was uncertain when the water would actually clear once workers began treating the water with chemicals.
He said workers will begin treating the water with chemicals Monday in an effort to clear up the water problem.
“The proof is in the pudding,” he said.
City officials said the reverse flow of water in old galvanized pipes caused the discolored water problem.
But not all residents agree with the way city officials have handled the problem and some do not believe the renewed efforts by the city is going to clear up anything.
Resident Darrell Howell said the city is just taking the most cost effective measure in an attempt to fix the discolored water problem.
“I don’t think it’s going to work,” Howell said. “The old pipes need to be replaced.”
He said the city also needs to route the 750,000 gallons of surface water it now receives daily to the city’s water tank.
“But, I think it’s not cost effective for them,” Howell said.
Councilman Greg Gossett told residents new water lines were not installed to bring the surface water directly to the city’s water tanks because it would save the city about $1 million.
He said it was a way for the city to save money, but nobody at the time thought that bringing the water directly into the system would cause a problem.
At Thursday’s meeting the council approved the first of many resolutions that would waive water charges for residents receiving discolored water.
The move came after Gossett asked the council to waive the charges for residents.
Gossett said residents shouldn’t have to pay for water they can’t use, and the mayor and council agreed.
So far only about seven residents have applied for relief in payment of their water bills.
City officials also said the city plans to replace aging water lines, but that will take more time and money.
Hereford said the city is seeking grant money to replace old water lines, some many say is 50-75-years-old.
Councilman Donnie Todd said his first reaction to the discolored water problem was to turn off the valve to the surface water entering into the city’s water system.
“It was sort of a knee jerk reaction,” he said.
He said engineers said by turning off the valve, it could make the problem worse.
So officials will leave the water valve open for now.
Councilwoman Dot Wood said workers will begin replacing some water lines in the Mill Village community next Wednesday, but that project was in the works before the discolored water problem surfaced in that community.
“This has been in the works for three years,” she said.
Hereford said Thursday he did not foresee this type of problem once the city began accepting the CVWSD water. He said only about 50 of nearly 5,000 of the city water customers have discolored water problems, and it appears to be residents living closest to where the surface water is being introduced into the city’s water system.
“I think it’s old pipes, and these neighbors are early in the distribution system, but that’s only speculation on my part,” he said.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.