Refunds for stinky water? No, says Chairman Brown

As Fayette County’s odorous tap water problem has extended into its second week, Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown insists that it is safe to drink and that the county, upon request, will come out and perform a water quality test on individual homes that scans for bacterial and other contaminants.

There have been no “positive” tests showing contaminants on any of those tests, Brown said.

“We’re very sure there are no health effects. It’s just nuisance odor and taste,” Brown said.

The county has bled off about 4 million gallons from the water system that is being stored in a well as part of the effort to get clean-smelling water back into the system. The system has also begun a “heavy filtration” process to get rid of the smelly, foul-tasting water.

Brown stopped short of promising to give a credit to water customers as an incentive for them to turn on their taps to clear their lines.

“We have discussed that,” Brown said. “We have not committed to doing it, but we have discussed it.”

The problem is that home lines are so small, it will take a long time to bleed away the smelly water, Brown said.

The water system has flushed fire hydrants on a round-the-clock basis, but that process will not help residents who are between a hydrant and the end of the line, Brown noted. Residents in that situation face a “prolonged” period before the water will be flushed out of the lines, Brown said.

“They hydrant only flushes the water coming to the line, it does not backdraw the water going from the line,” Brown said.

Once the problem was discovered, the county shut down water intake from Lake Peachtree and began diverting more water into the system from Lake Horton, which comes from the south Fayette water treatment plant, officials have said. The problem is definitely not coming from the new Lake McIntosh reservoir, Brown added.

Brown acknowledged that businesses were being hurt by the odor-filled tap water, as some have taken to issuing customers bottled water and cooking with water from other sources than the tap.

“I’m feeling very bad for the restaurants, some of whom, I assume, don’t even have filtration leading into their fountain drinks,” Brown said. “And if that’s the case, it’s even worse for them. Obviously we have a great deal of empathy for the position they’re in.”

Brown said the smelly water problems originated in Lake Peachtree when water temperature changes caused organic compounds to be stirred up in the water near the intake that transports the water to the Crosstown water treatment plant.

Although the plant’s filter system removed the physical compounds, it was unable to eliminate the smell, Brown said. He insisted that there was no “operator error” at the plant.

Brown also said it was not a matter that the county fell short on its lake dredging responsibilities. The county plans to dredge the lake this summer, which will remove sediment that has accumulated on the bottom over the past 10 or so years.

“This is an act of God, it is a natural occurrence,” Brown said. “It is like tornados, lightning strikes and floods. It’s an act of nature.”

Part of the problem is that Lake Peachtree is fairly shallow to be a reservoir, about 10 feet at its deepest, Brown noted. In deeper reservoirs it is less likely for organic compounds to become a problem, he added.

On top of the organic compounds stirred by the temperature change, there was also a gigantic amount of water entering the system due to rains both here and upstream, Brown added.

“I can tell you because I have personally gone out and checked this, 24 hours a day they’re opening these hydrants,” Brown said.

The county has more than 600 miles of water pipes underground, and it takes a good bit of time to get them cleared out, Brown said.

Brown noted that the county uses between 20 and 30 million gallons of water a day.

A similar occurrence happened about 10 years ago, Brown said, reiterating that the problem is naturally occurring and not an error that occurred at the water plant.

“The good thing is, it’s not a health hazard, it’s not a health risk,” Brown said. “It’s a severe inconvenience but it’s not a danger to anyone’s health.”

Brown said the water system was hoping the problem would have gone away by now. But judging by comments on The Citizen’s Facebook page, the problem has gotten worse in some areas of the county. Citizens are reporting that they are buying bottled water and even churches are having to import water.

“Some areas may have it longer than some other areas, because we’ve had more opportunities to flush because of the hydrants,” Brown said.

Not all Fayette County subdivisions and homes are served by fire hydrants. Some older ones in particular are not near a fire hydrant, and in case of a fire the county fire department will use a tanker truck to shuttle water from the nearest hydrant to feed fire engines.

If an incident were to occur that compromised the water to the point where people shouldn’t drink it, the county has a telephone alert system that can broadcast a phone message if necessary, Brown said.

moelarrycurly
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WSB TV and lagoon water in FC?

WSB just reported that the EPD has been here due to complaints and the guess is that it came from a stagnant lagoon, but never said where the lagoon is. It said the water coming out now is from Lake Peachtree. What a stupid, lazy report that said absolutely nothing. Justin Farmer did the report from the anchor desk and a few photos of stinky stagnant water were shown (close up) which gave no clue as to where that was located. No interviews with the big shot Tony Parrott or even bigger shot Steve Brown. No reporter on scene, either. Guess he/she didn't want to get any stinky water on them.

neighbor36
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water

If you look at the April rainfall in Peachtree city, you will see that it was below average for the month. The last 15 days had less than 1.5 inches. There was a heavy rain on May 4. But this water problem started showing up (for me) on April 31. So to blame heavy rainfall for part of the problem seems dubious.

borntorun
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Fayette Stinky Water and God

Interesting...so the Brown Clown says hundreds if not thousands of people who cannot drink the stinky water and are forced to purchase bottled water not to mention the untold number of businesses who are absorbing revenue losses due to the stinky water will not receive any monetary relief from the county because it's an "act of God". So, Stevie....if the company I work for is destroyed by a tornado (surely an act of God if I ever saw one) am I still required to pay my water bill if I lose my job due to the tornado? Or does this "act of God" think only run one way? Just sayin'.....

fayettehuntman
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Seven foreign chem engineers trespassing at Boston's water

So seven chemical engineers, from countries with long histories of producing terrorist activity, caught at midnight lurking around one of our nation's largest water supplies, which the FBI has long warned are prime terrorist targets. Nothing fishy there.
"Seven foreign chem engineers caught trespassing at Boston's water reservoir"
www.caintv.com

Something to ponder.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Information

One suspect in all of this I have discussed with our City Manager is tha fact that Lake Peachtree is too shallow and over due for dredging. That does, in fact, set up the scenario of an inversion in the Lake bringing decaying organic material up and into the intakes.

If that is the major cause here, no amount of Stormwater work outside the lake would have stopped this problem.

That is a completely separate discussion, though, from Stormwater in general.

This AM Chairman Brown called the City Manager and me. We agreed to working with the County on a mass flush of the City utilizing County and PTC fire personnel.

I asked when on the dredging he said the paperwork has been submitted and has been in process for the last four months.

I hope it works, all of it. We will see.

As for legal compliance, I can tell you PTC does comply.

ptc_mom_101
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for what i pay this is stupid

considering what we pay for water and other associated fees i think it is stupid they have not done it.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Stupid

All I can say is that City Hall is a customer just as you are when it comes to water. We have no control.

On the dredging, we did our due diligence in a timely manner in 2011 and 2012. Now it is up to the County to do the dredging, since they have to pay for it in return for using the lake as a reservoir, since PTC owns it.

That agreement was made when the lake was initially constructed decades ago.

Husband and Fat...
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Since you said it, I guess we

Since you said it, I guess we have to believe you and your expertise.

Inversion on a shallow lake is less likely than a deeper lake.

Discount storm water all you want

John Mrosek
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Our local Clean Water "Tap Dance"

In one press conference, Chairman Brown admits (like Mayor Haddix) that county stormwater maintenance is very delinquent. In the next press conference he insists “Don’t worry, our drinking water is safe.” I find this so amusing. It is the type of Benghazi conflict we hear from the federal government.

Experts say that to the extent that oil was the major natural resource of the 20th century, water will be the major natural resource of the 21st century. In the 1960’s and ‘70’s, America finally awakened to the fact that its air and water quality were becoming severely polluted because of industrial development and that federal regulatory intervention was needed. A seminal event was when television viewers witnessed to their horror, Cleveland’s great Cuyahoga River fire of 1969, where the thick layer oil and debris floating on the lifeless river caught on fire and burned for days despite efforts to smother the flames. Thus was born the Clean Water Act. While the passage of the Act in 1972 has resulted in a decrease in pollution to our rivers, streams, and other bodies of water, its need and reach have not diminished. Stormwater was added a decade ago as one of the local government concerns. It has largely been given a half-hearted effort towards compliance.

It seems our government leaders ( e.g., Messrs. Parrott, Brown, etc.) have insufficient concern for the gravity of the situation. A significant source of our drinking water is a body of water (the Flint River) which starts as a spring under the airport. As Dennis Chase once pointed out, the first mile or so of that body of water is completely dead. This is our starting point. And yet Fayette County’s exact response to me on the cleanliness of our water (some years ago) was “We comply with all federal standards.” Wow, is that not reassuring.

A lackadaisical attitude for many seemingly unimportant issues (i.e., stormwater maintenance) has led us to the point that our drinking water is unsafe. I have known this for years. It is why our family drinks bottled water and has a whole house filter. My wife survived cancer and, well, that’s all I am going to say about that. I’ll protect my family and you protect yours.

The Clean Water Act specifically imposes requirements on local governments including the regulation and cleanliness of stormwater. But the lack of attention at the state and local level (as an example) is why the 1972 goal set to clean up all American water by 1985 now seems so ridiculous.

Thank you Chili’s for supplying clean water and ice. The City and County will not change just as we see that the federal government will not change, at least not in my lifetime. Mr. Brown was Mayor of Peachtree City and their legacy of decades of “water issues” continues. Now Mr. Brown is Commission Chairman. I see no real changes.

Again, folks, I’ll protect my family. You protect yours.

MajorMike
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Testing

Has the water been tested by a reputable full service lab or testing facility as opposed to the portable kits that measure a finite number of pollutants? I'm not saying I don't trust our people but maintaining the status quo is not fixing the problem.

k0bra
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Total inconvenience

it's not just stinky... it tastes equally as disgusting. As someone who works in the restaurant business and a consumer of Fayette County, I can't tell you how much of an utter inconvenience this is! I noticed the dank, dirty taste about 2 weeks ago and have dealt with washing my clothes and smelling that scent, showering with that scent, even food that is cooked with tap water tastes like this! Some restaurants beverages have been hit by this as well and it's a bummer! Sounds like no one knows what's going on either... it's all over town and we have no explanation? I've lived in FayCo for around 15 years and never tasted anything like this... so tell me, this "act of god" is it happening around other nearby places?

k0bra
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Total inconvenience

it's not just stinky... it tastes equally as disgusting. As someone who works in the restaurant business and a consumer of Fayette County, I can't tell you how much of an utter inconvenience this is! I noticed the dank, dirty taste about 2 weeks ago and have dealt with washing my clothes and smelling that scent, showering with that scent, even food that is cooked with tap water tastes like this! Some restaurants beverages have been hit by this as well and it's a bummer! Sounds like no one knows what's going on either... it's all over town and we have no explanation? I've lived in FayCo for around 15 years and never tasted anything like this... so tell me, this "act of god" is it happening around other nearby places?

moelarrycurly
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How about an update on Photocircuits?

Seems kind of timely. Notice the line about the water system and the Flint river....one year and a lotta rain later, is this still being monitored?

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/07-05-2012/copper-waste-cleanup-order...

fayettehuntman
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No tie-in to Flint River this time

If you stop and talk to the guys doing the flushing, you get a different story about what is going on. They say that the Flint River has nothing to do with the current problems because all of the water from the Flint goes into Lake Horton. The water from Lake Horton is still good, with no taste or odor problems. They are starting to think it is Starr's Mill water that was the problem, not Lake Peachtree, because the water from Lake Peachtree does not go into the lake at the PTC plant, but the "holding" lake is full of stinky smelly water also. Why did it take so long to figure this thing out? And is it finally figured out? Who knows?

fayettehuntman
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smelly water

"My point was *not* that we should simply dilute away our contamination, but rather that the explanations being given are not good enough. The scant rise in temperatures coupled with the amount of rain (which wasn't even close to 24-hour/25 year storm totals) doesn't make sense. I've smelled this scent before, friend, but never in *moving* water. "

I agree.

We have had many, many rainfalls much worse than this time and no problem whatsoever. There is something out there that we don't know about yet....and may never know....

Evil Elvis
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Heck of a job, Brownie

Massive rainwater and leachate is the savior of water treatment, not the bane. Ever heard of dilution? Helluva thing. The nastiest, most harmful substances can be rendered harmless, given enough dilution.

So FayCo Water System was blessed with the ability to dilute all their problems down to nil -- and don't kid yourself, that is EXACTLY how it is done in water treatment. You, however, claim that massive dilution AMPLIFIES problems? Clearly, whatever Kool-Aid you were given was concentrate.

Let's stop with the BS. Time for transparency. I trust you can Google the definition. Let's see whatever report you're referencing, declaring the water is safe. Let's see a TCLP.

The next move is getting Georgia EPD/DNR involved. You know, people that can smack a consent order and fines on the authority.

And as for "heavy filtration", I ran a few gallons from the tap through a .02 micron ceramic filter. Viola! No odor, no taste.

S. Lindsey
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Dilution is NOT the solution to Pollution...

If you have 400ml of Mercury and you add 10,000 liters of water you now have 10,000 liters of water contaminated with 400ml of Mercury. It just doesn't go away.

Flushing Chemicals is not magical. They don't perform a disappearing act. They form a leachate and will become part of our environment.

Water Treatment plants abhor most chemicals. The Biological enzymes used to break down human waste is destroyed by most chemicals. Flushing the system is the last resort.

Evil Elvis
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Yeah yeah

And yet, given enough dilution, your 400 ml of Mercury (which can leach from, say, a nearby cemetery) would meet testing standards for municipal drinking or wastewater discharge. You are quite right that it does not go away. It is still 400 ml of Mercury. But it would be quite easy to dilute down to acceptable discharge (or even drinking) standards. In Georgia, that is little more than pH, specific gravity, flashpoint, sulfides and cyanides (the qualifying profile *does* include a partial TCLP, however, that might catch the Mercury, should it be part of the sample).

Everybody prefers biological to phys/chem. Rotifers are bad lil' critters. But that process doesn't happen post-release and in the pipe, so to speak. Kept in suspense through a series of gravity-separating EQ tanks, clarifiers and a big, fat aeration basin replete with those jolly blowers made by our local friends at Gardner Denver ... no problemo.

My point was *not* that we should simply dilute away our contamination, but rather that the explanations being given are not good enough. The scant rise in temperatures coupled with the amount of rain (which wasn't even close to 24-hour/25 year storm totals) doesn't make sense. I've smelled this scent before, friend, but never in *moving* water.

Either way, releasing a full TCLP analytical would be the best and most responsible move.

(And for the record, I have had the pleasure of operating more than one full RCRA Part B facility.)

S. Lindsey
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...and for the record ..I still do.

...and I hear almost everyday "I can pour Methyl Ethyl Death down the drain as long as I flush it with enough water"... WRONG.

It's called treatment without a permit and I was simply addressing your general statement of dilution and pollution.

We don't need the general public to start thinking we can pour anything down the drain and it will get taken care of downstream.

NUK_1
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LOL....sure W didn't trademark that phrase?

"Heck of a job, Brownie."

cats119
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Fayette Water...so what else is new?

Funny how now its a big issue when I have been complaining about the smell of the water in my neighborhood inside the city limits of Fayetteville for 3 years. At first they told me i was imagining things. Then they told me it was normal. Then they told me it was the chemicals that clean the water. They never asked where I live. They never asked what it smells like. They never offered to test it. Why does everything have to get to the point of residential revolt for anythig to get accomplished around here?

fayettehuntman
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smelly water

If you want an interesting experience, try talking to William McKinley about the problem! Mr Mckinley is the water manager over the Fayette water plant in Peachtree City. He does not have a clue what is going on and handed me off to one of his employees who was obviously very uncomfortable talking about what is going on!

My concern is that if the on-site manager does not know what the problem is and has no idea how he is going to do anything about it, then how does Tony Parrot know so much about the problem?

Smells like something besides just the water is fishy!

Call the TDK Water Plant and ask for the manager and tell me If I am exaggerating!

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SWAMP Water, get your SWAMP water here..

Brown's is qualified in what way to say "all is good"? Yeah right...nothing to see here...move along.

In my 49+ years of being on this earth, I have never seen a municipal system have a problem as widespread as this.

Husband and Fat...
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Spyglass - ATL

Atlanta has this problem due to stormwater after every rain. That's why the feds are fining them each and every day.

Spyglass
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that was/ is for excess

Waste discharge into the Chattahoochee River. Not selling stinky swamp water to its customers, the ATL restaurant scene would be howling.

Husband and Fat...
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Mr. Brown

"On top of the organic compounds stirred by the temperature change, there was also a gigantic amount of water entering the system due to rains both here and upstream, Brown added."

Now tell us what types of organic compounds were discovered and if the runoff and stormwater exacerbated the problem.

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