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Denmark residents concerned about water quality Print E-mail

Denmark residents expressed their concern about the color and quality of the town’s drinking water to Denmark City Council and DHEC at their regular monthly meeting.

One resident said that his brother, who is a paraplegic, couldn’t use the city’s water for washing or cooking, because he gets sick easily, and when he washes his brother’s clothes they are discolored. He went on to say that a friend called him and said that after she washed her hair it turned brown.

“Something has got to be done about this, it’s costing us money because we can’t wear those clothes anymore,” he said.

“We’ve been hearing lots of complaints about discoloration of the water,” said Jennifer Hughes, with DHEC’s Region 5 of Aiken, Environmental Quality Control, who attended the meeting with Travis Fuss of DHEC, to answer citizen’s questions.

Hughes stated that for the last month or month and a half, her office has tested over 40 samples from homes and wells for any type of biological contaminate that would cause any type of health effect.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of iron in the water, causing a discoloration problem, the results of the lime breakdown, and flushing aspects, which causes disturbances in the line. The water is safe for drinking, no bacterial contamination was found in the water,” Hughes said, and she added that her office would be back in the city in 60 days for more inspections.

One city resident commented that the water color problem started when “perk was found in the wells,” referring to the dry cleaning solvents found earlier.

Hughes stated that there were several reasons why the residents of the town were experiencing problems with the water.

“What started things off was when the town took two wells offline. To feed the town, and make sure the town had enough water, the water tank in Bamberg started feeding the water up highway 78, and it changed the flow of the water. Water had already come out of the wells in a certain path, when the town took two wells off-line, it started feeding the water in a different direction and started disrupting the internal lines. When you change the water dynamics, when you flow water a different way, change the pressure of the water, when you have a higher concentration of chlorine or disinfectant, those types of actions causes a disturbance in the water,” Hughes said.

Daniel Norton, the city’s publics works director, said that his department has raised the chlorine level in the tanks (presently at two parts per million 2.20 ), in an effort to clean out the pipes in the water system that he said was approximately 65 years old. He stated that the “milky” color observed by some residents in the water, is “air trapped in the water.” Norton said that the city’s water problems wouldn’t be a quick fix, and the city is working with five different companies, DHEC, and, an independent lab, that checks the water system each month in an effort to correct the problems.

Norton stated that several automatic flushers that were recently purchased by the city will be in use for the next three or four months, in order to get the sediment out of the lines.

Residents at the meeting said they needed to be informed when the flushing of the pipes began because of the harm it does to their clothes. Several stated that they didn’t receive notification when the city was placed under a boil-water advisory back on August 7.

“It’s going to take a couple months to get this problem fixed , we’re not the only town with this problem, we’re in the process of cleaning out our pipes to their furtherest point in the city,” Norton said.

Other residents complained about the 20 percent increase in water rates, with one resident stating that her water bill for the month was $114.00 and she did not use any water.

Others questioned whether the city’s priorities were in the wrong place.

“Instead of beautifying downtown you need to improve the water, the water is more important, beautiful city, dirty water,” one person said.

“It’s going to take time, this was not a problem created because of neglect on the part of the current council,” Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. Gerald Wright said. “It was something that occurred over the years because of a lack of proper maintenance. I understand the frustration; we will do what we can do as a council to get this corrected as quickly and efficiently as we can.”

In other business:

It was stated in the financial report that the city had total revenues in excess of expenses in the amount of $18,162.11, in the general fund for the period of July 1 through August 31, 2008; and $ 14,587.65 in the water and sewer fund.

Police Chief Leroy Grimes reported that the Denmark Police Department created 53 case files, which included an armed robbery and murder case.

The water department received two sealed bids to clean out the city’s water tanks, with Southeastern Underwater Services submitting the lowest bid of $7,600.

Council requested the city administrator to look into council’s authority in removing delinquent and dilapidated buildings; look into the possibility of council contracting locally for garbage pickup; and proposed recommending a letter to the citizens of Denmark addressing the water problems in the city.

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