“I wish I had some good news to tell you,” said Billy Drummonds, who lives in the Oak Ridge community. “Our only hope is to go back to well water.”
For five months, residents in the Oak Ridge and Mill Village communities have endured discolored water pumped to their homes. Residents said the water is not fit to drink or bathe in.
“I am afraid it’s a losing battle,” Drummonds said. “The chemical treatment didn’t do a thing for this area.”
Darrell Howell said there is no change in the water he receives in the Mill Village community.
“It’s still discolored — and it stinks,” he said. “It’s just not real pretty right now.”
Residents began complaining to city officials about the discolored water in December when the city began receiving water from the Coosa Valley Water Supply District surface water treatment facility in Ragland.
City officials said the reverse flow of water, not the water itself, has caused discoloration because the water is going the opposite way through galvanized pipes that are more than 50 years old. The reverse flow knocked loose accumulated particles in the pipes, causing the discoloration.
The city is replacing some water and sewer lines in the Mill Village, and contract workers have begun replacing the old sewer line there.
“It will take nine months before they get through with the sewer and can get started on replacing the water lines,” Howell said.
Drummonds said he has a wheelbarrow full of water filters.
“I have to change the water filter every two days,” he said.
He said water filters don’t remove the stench from the water.
“It smells awful,” Drummonds said. “It smells like swamp water.”
He said the summer heat has made the odor worse.
Drummonds said the city is attempting to do things to alleviate the problem with the water, but nothing seems to work.
Drummonds said the chemical treatment of the water has not helped at all.
“This is not going to work,” he said. “It’s not drinkable. We don’t know what to do with the water.”
Some residents say the water is a health hazard, and others claim it has made them sick.
Drummonds said the only fix is for the city to go back to supplying residents with well water until they get the problem under control.
Councilman Greg Gossett said Tuesday that he was told the city’s new treatment plan is doing the job it’s supposed to be doing.
Gossett said residents still need to continue flushing out their water lines at home.
He said if flushing does not clear up their water, residents should report the problem to the Water Department.
Councilwoman Dot Wood said from the reports she has received “overall” things are improving.
She said she is meeting with engineers Thursday for an update on the situation and should have more information then.
She said the council considered cutting off the valve to the Coosa Valley Water Supply District water, but engineers have advised against it.
“They said it could make the problem worse,” Wood said.
Mayor Bill Hereford said the city will continue to work toward a solution to the discolored water problem.
“We aren’t going to quit until this problem is solved,” he said.
Hereford said he believes the problem is improving in the main water lines, but residents need to continue flushing to help solve the problem in the smaller water lines that feed water to their homes.
“It is improving,” Hereford said. “There’s no question that it is improving. … We feel very good about our latest efforts.”
He said only about one percent of Pell City water customers are having problems with discolored water, but said he wants all of the city’s water customers to receive crystal clear water.
“We are going to do all we can,” Hereford said. “We will not stop until it’s done.”
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.