Water quality issues continue
by Chris Norwood
Sep 18, 2012 | 4989 views |  3 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many Forest Hills community members have been plagued by long-term problems with water discoloration. After presenting a petition to the city council Monday night, that body voted unanimously to provide free bottled water and iron stain removal products to residents requesting them. Jim Smothers/The Daily Home
Many Forest Hills community members have been plagued by long-term problems with water discoloration. After presenting a petition to the city council Monday night, that body voted unanimously to provide free bottled water and iron stain removal products to residents requesting them. Jim Smothers/The Daily Home
TALLADEGA — The City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to provide bottled drinking water and iron-stain removers to the residents of the Forest Hills community that have been plagued by water quality issues the last few years.

Resident Rodney Cate presented the council with a petition signed by more than 40 area residents.

“We, the residents of Forest Hills in Talladega, are tired of dirty water,” Cate said. “For three years we have had to put up with bad water. The problem started when the Water Department shut down the Mt. Olive well and reversed the water flow causing the water in Forest Hills to become nasty. We have spoken to city officials for help dozens of times with little or no improvement in the quality of our water. We have to buy drinking water, we have to take our clothes to the laundry and we have to take baths in dirty, stinking water. It is time for the city of Talladega officials to take positive action to resolve this problem by drilling a new well or replac(ing) the existing pipes. Whatever it takes, we pay our taxes, we deserve water that we can drink, cook with, bathe with and clean our clothes and homes with. We need water that is safe to use.”

Cate went on to say that, “No one would want to live in an area that has third world conditions such as the intolerable water problems that the residents of Forest Hills live with every day. We, citizens of Forest Hills, in Talladega, Alabama, ask that this problem be addressed quickly. We have children and elderly people with health problems that have to use this contaminated water. This is their only source for water. We are asking the city of Talladega to make this a top priority. Our health, and maybe even our lives are at stake.”

Three years is far too long for this matter to be unresolved,” he concluded. “We have run hoses for over a year to flush out these pipes. We have asked the Talladega Water Department to flush those lines; nothing done so far has helped our water situation. Until this problem is solved, the city of Talladega should provide residents of Forest Hills a water source that is clean and safe, The water we have now stinks, and is dingy in a variety of colors up to a rusted color. On a good day, it is pale green when we ran the water through a hose around the clock, 24 hours per day. We can no longer do this because the Water Department has reconnected the meters, denying us this small respite. This tells us that the Water Department does not care about the residents of Forest Hills, but they do accept taxes for a job that is not well done.”

Many other residents also voiced frustration, including a woman who insisted that she should not be asked to pay a monthly bill for unusable water.

James Cassidy of Insite Engineering explained that after 25 years in service, the Mount Olive Well went down and had to be closed. The water flow had to then be reversed so that demand could be met with water from the surface plant.” The surface plant water and well water are different, which contributes to the problem.

Water Department General Manager Chuck Thomerson said his department was working to “change the product” and “prevent corrosion. We’ll be doing selective line replacements and developing a customer service form.”

The water itself, he added “is not pretty. It’s not. But it’s not contaminated, and it isn’t going to make you sick, either.”

They are also looking for new wells and storage tank locations, he added.

Council President Donnie Miller said addressing this situation was “our top priority. We should have you a timeline in a couple of weeks.”

Councilman Ricky Simpson suggested a public hearing on the issues involved.

The overall cost of the council approved action Monday night “will be contingent on demand,” City Manager Brian Muenger said. “As for the timeline, that will involve a program of line replacement for undersized or old galvanized pipes and a change in the phosphate coating, which will actually coat the lines more than just cleaning them out.”

In an unrelated matter, the council also spent about half an hour in executive session with attorney Mike O’Brien regarding “potential litigation if the city continues to or fails to undertaken a possible course of action.”

Other than adjournment, no action was taken.

Also Monday, the council:

• Honored last year’s C.L. Salter archery team.

• Were formally invited to a dinner for local dignitaries at McDonald’s the day before it reopens.

• Delayed condemning one property on Moon Street for 60 days and tabled condemnation of a neighboring property. A mobile home on Frazier Street was condemned.

• Heard, through O’Brien, that the owner of another condemned property had not been able to find a certified builder but had appealed the city’s nuisance ruling to Circuit Court.

• Heard Ray Miller report t the Red Door Kitchen was still open for walk-ins, but only between 10:45 a.m. and 11:45 p.m. The rest of meals are delivered to people who can’t come and get them.

• Heard City Clerk Beth Cheeks report that the summer food program had fed 7,000 more people than last year, at no cost to the city.

• Heard Muenger report the Census Bureau had adjusted Talladega’s 2010 population by 357, bringing the total to 16,033.

• Announced a grant for improved drainange in Frazier Farms.

• Applied to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for a solar powered hot water system for the fire department.

• Approved grant applications to the Alabama Department of Transportation for replacement bridges on West and Coosa streets.

• Approved an audition contract with River Tree Systems.

• Approved a change order for the Ritz Theater to add supports to an existing joist.

• Approved a contract with Lynn Sims to teach dance lessons in the Spring Street Recreation Center.

• Two public works vehicles and one police vehicle were added as surplus.

• Approved a contract for 70 cell phones, with provision for department heads to buy half their own.

• Voted to waive the vendor fees for the Oct. 5 block party.

• Heard Muenger announce that City Clerk Beth Cheeks and Finance Director Teri St. James had located 80 to 90 parcels of land on Marble Quarry Road that had been improperly assessed since 1992.

• Heard Muenger announce he was planning to work with an outside designer to update the city’s web site.

_Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com