August 21, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 21

Electric City citizens want water cleared

Complaints of brown water and chlorine smells in Electric City’s water supply brought a large number of residents to the city council meeting Aug. 13.

Lillian and Jay Sooter, of 103 Sunset Drive, questioned the city’s response to brown water from their tap and a smell of chlorine so strong that they had to use bottled water.

Jay Sooter said the smell of chlorine was so bad that he couldn’t take his pills with city water.

Ted Christianson, who also lives on Sunset, said he had to buy bottled water to drink and to cook with. He asked the council if the city was going to reimburse people for the expense of purchasing bottled water.

Mayor Jerry Sands systematically took the 20 people who showed up through the ordeal the city has gone through with its arsenic treatment plant.

The city has been trying to get its arsenic treatment plant on line for some time. At first the brown water problem was dismissed by the Department of Health, as they reassured the city that it was OK to drink. The city tried to sell that to local residents to no avail.

Then the Department of Health shut the system down until the city could solve the problem.

Workers found that a float in a settlement tank was partly to blame, and fixed it.

The system was started up again but the problem persisted.

It was a strange twist as some residents reported clear water with no chlorine smell, while others reported the opposite.

Sands assured residents that a chemical reaction with the limited amount of chlorine used would eventually clear up.

The city got trapped in putting in the million-dollar-plus arsenic treatment plant because its water would not meet the new federal drinking water standard. The feds had changed the threshold from 50 parts of arsenic per billion to 10 parts per billion. Electric City’s groundwater naturally runs from 13-17 parts per billion, just over the new standard.

The city had pleaded for an exemption because tests were so close, but it was refused.

Now some residents are upset and wonder how long the brown water and chlorine smell will continue.

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