CORDOVA — Dawne Miller got a message from her daughter last Friday with a photo of a dark liquid in a glass.
The text of the message read: “This is what our cold water looks like, it looks like tea but I promise it’s not.”
Miller recently posted the photo to the Daily Journal’s Facebook page. One of her neighbors also posted photos of dark water coming from several faucets.
By Tuesday the water had cleared up, but still had a light brownish tinge.
“This is normal,” Miller said. “This shouldn’t be like this.”
Miller, who has lived in her current Cordova home for two years, said the water is usually dark two to three times per week and has been an ongoing problem for several months.
“Sometimes it will clear up, sometimes it doesn’t,” she said. “It’s getting to the point it’s getting ridiculous.”
She said when it’s darker, she feels dirtier after taking a shower, adding, “I feel like I could go down to the river and get cleaner.”
“It’s bad enough to give it to my pets, but to give it to my family as well?” she queried in frustration.
Miller said she has been buying water to cook with, but can’t afford extra clean water to give to her dogs and cats.
“That on top of a water bill and they just increased rates,” she said. “People in this town struggle enough.”
Her daughter, 16-year-old Mackenzi Shankle, said sometimes she debates whether to give the outside dogs fresh water because the old water in their bucket looks cleaner.
“We just want answers,” Miller said. “We need something done.”
Bryan Land, public works director for Richmond County, said these type of problems normally start to arise around mid-summer as lake temperatures increase.
“With the extreme temperatures and high usages, we are pushing our water treatment plant to the limits,” he said in an email on Wednesday. “We had some issues with sediment buildup in the clearwell, but that problem was alleviated with a washout and disinfection that was completed on the 22nd.”
Land said some of the remaining sediment has started to carry over from the clearwell and has migrated to the county’s standpipe and other elevated tanks within the system.
“We are currently scheduling a disinfection (and) washout of the standpipe,” he said, “but it is looking like around Aug. 15 before that can take place.”
In the interim, Land said maintenance crews are flushing dead-end lines to remove sediment and pulling the dingy water through the system as much is allowable.
According to Land, some of the worst areas affected are Cordova and surrounding areas, Battley Diary Road and Airport Road. He added that county crews are starting to see some tinted water show up in the Ledbetter area, Richmond Road Extension, U.S. 1, McDonald Church Road and the Pine Lakes subdivision.
Land said even the water at his home was looking dingy over the weekend but had cleared up by mid-week.
“We have also had an increase in main breaks over the last few days, which is adding to the problem,” he said, adding there were three on Wednesday that crews were “trying to get a handle on.”
“The good news is this an aesthetic problem that is color-related and does not pose a health hazard, however it may be advisable to test your water before trying to wash a load of white clothes,” he said to those experiencing problems. “Normally lines in the interior of your homes can be flushed out by turning the water on in a shower and allowing (it) to flow for a minute or so. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to drain your water heater to remove sediment.”
Land said water maintenance crews are “working vigorously” to repair the leaks and improve the water quality. Any county water customers with discolored water are encouraged to call 910-997-8290 so crews can flush the affected area.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.