Water inspections needed before waiving future bills
by David Atchison
Feb 07, 2013 | 2246 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY — City Manager Patrick Draper said residents must have the tap water inside their homes inspected before the city will waive future water bills.

“We want to come into the house and check it out,” Draper told about two dozen residents who say they continue to have problems with discolored or smelly water.

He said the city will evaluate individual resident’s water problems, and will waive water bills on a case-by-case basis.

Draper said residents who are still experiencing problems with their water need to contact City Hall as soon as possible and arrange an inspection.

He said the city will work with residents to set up inspections at the customer’s convenience.

Last month the City Council waived about 34 individual water bills. Some residents living in the Mill Village and Oak Ridge communities have complained that their water is discolored and smells. About two dozens residents met with city officials Tuesday night at the Senior Citizen Center to discuss the water problem.

“Our intent is to resolve this issue,” Mayor Joe Funderburg told residents who attended the meeting. “Trust me … we are all in this together. We need your patience and your help. It will get better. Everyone here is concerned about the water.”

Officials said the meeting was held to give residents an update on what the city has done and possible future actions to solve the problem. Some residents have reported discolored or smelly water for the past 13 months after the city began receiving water from another source, the Coosa Valley Water Supply District.

Officials said the problem is not the water, but the aging pipes that deliver that water.

“Please know we are concerned about you,” Councilman Jay Jenkins told residents. “We’re concerned. If I have one person who has a problem, I have a problem.”

Officials said they believe the water problem is getting better.

City officials said workers have continued to flush the water mains in the Oak Ridge and Mill Village communities. New water lines were also installed in the Mill Village, and workers have added chemicals that act as corrosive inhibitors for the inside of old metal pipes. Samples of water are periodically collected and tested.

“We do appreciate what you’ve done,” resident Myra Courtney said. “I know the city has gone to great expense. We aren’t here to throw stones.”

However, it is clear some residents continue to have problems with the city’s water.

“We’re still getting bad water,” one woman said, adding that the water has a yellowish tint and smells. “It would clear up for a while then go bad the next day.”

One resident said water standing too long in his commode will eventually emit a rotten egg odor.

“What we need to do, if you are having problems, let us schedule an inspection,” Draper said. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t help you. We want to come into your home this week.”

One woman said when the water lines were replaced on a street in her Mill Village neighborhood, their water cleared up and had no odor.

“It’s all gone,” she said.

Other residents asked when the city could replace water lines in their neighborhood or streets.

“We have some very old infrastructure in this town, and it’s going to have to be addressed,” said Bryon Woods, a contract engineer with Municipal Consultants of Birmingham.

Draper told residents the city is going to evaluate each individual problem area and try to come up with solutions, but it appears the discolored water problem has shifted to an odor problem for most of the remaining residents with problems.

“We want to fix your problem,” he said.

Draper said residents need to schedule their inspections during the times the problem with the water occurs. Some residents said the water is discolored when it is first turned on in the morning, but eventually clears, sometimes within seconds.

Draper said that could become the new norm, but if it takes longer than a few seconds the city needs to investigate the problem.

“If it’s dingy in the morning, the city needs to be there in the morning,” Woods said.

City officials insist the water is safe to use.

“By all standards, the water is safe,” Draper said, adding that he thinks the city is making progress with eliminating the discolored water problem.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.