NEW HAVEN — Residents of the Town of New Haven have been on the new $8.2 million upgraded water system for less than two weeks, and the results for most of them has been a flow of brown water.
Several dozen residents turned out at Monday evening’s council meeting to hear what an investigation by J.D. Douglas, district engineer with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, has found.
The good news, according to Douglas, is the brown water poses no health threat by Environmental Protection Agency standards. While testing the new water well, he said the manganese showed a level of .9, which is 20 times over the secondary level. The iron level was also high.
“It’s a huge nuisance, but not a health threat,” Douglas said. “We do want to get it cleared up.”
He continued that it appeared while draining the old water tank to fill the new one, sediment was drawn into the new system. But while Douglas said there is no health risk, he admitted that he would not drink it.
According to Douglas, when contractors drilled the new well, the water hit was worse than that in the old well, even though the new well was located only four feet from the old. He added the problem might calm down and flush itself out somewhat, but residents will never experience crystal clear drinking water. Adding there is no quick solution, Douglas said there is no way to fully treat the water with the current system.
The town has been flushing the over 40 hydrants for the past week, having flushed them twice as of Monday. Some residents reported they had seen some improvements.
The immediate measure planned by council to help the problem though is to purchase a phosphorus solution to serve as a sequestering agent for the iron and manganese. Douglas said that could work, but might not, since the levels are nine times over the recommendation for it to be effective.
A long term solution is to install a filtration system that takes metals out of the water. And while Douglas said that would require a design engineer to plan, he gave a ballpark figure of $1 million.
Councilman Matt Shell reported town officials had met with their attorney Monday, prior to the meeting, to consider filing a lawsuit against the engineering firm and contractors to correct the problem. He assured residents that the council is not ignoring the problem, and it was nothing the council did, or is at fault for.
At least two residents mentioned the possibility of a class action lawsuit, but were urged to wait and see if negligence was found on the part of the engineers and contractors.
In other action, the council:
Approved a building permit for James Howard for roof repair;
Hired certified police officer Clayton Gibbs as a part-time patrolman;
Heard police concerns from resident Shawn King;
Approved opening the municipal swimming pool on Tuesday (July 7); and,
Heard concerns of homeless people living on the river bank behind the library.
Attending, in addition to Shell, were Mayor Greg Kaylor, Recorder Roberta Hysell, and councilmen Roy Grimm, George Gibbs, Grant Hysell and Steve Carpenter.
The next meeting will be July 20, 6 p.m.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.