UPDATED: Water in Falmouth is safe to use
After battling a bout of brown water for Falmouth residents over a two-week period, Water and Wastewater Department Supervisor Andy Richie called Department of Environmental Protection Regional Office at Florence.
City of Falmouth was scheduled for a inspection and Richie wanted Matt Gross to provide assistance in combatting the brown water issue as well as complete the inspection.
While the final written report has not been completed, city officials were verbally told “that everything was fine” and they received zero violations.
"The water is safe to use,” said Mayor Ron Stinson.
UPDATED: Lanny Brannock, Media contact for the Ky. Dept. of Environmental Protect said on Friday, July 20, "Water can be discolored for any number of reason but still safe for human consumption. Everything is okay with Falmouth's water."
He added, "The city is not going to get cited and their was no disruption in quality of the water. They needed to fix the issue and they fixed the issue."
In an interview with Richie, Stinson and Safety Director/Administrative Assistant Dawn King Hughes, they indicated to the Falmouth Outllook that the Army Corps of Engineers had opened the bottom valve at Cave Run Lake.
The bottom of the lake is where organic material dissolves. From that comes manganese, the element that has been causing the brown water.
In addition, manganese is used in the normal treatment of water. As the staff went about their normal treatments, they were unknowingly adding manganese to water already saturated with the element.
“Unknowingly” because no one from the Army Corp of Engineers informed the cities downstream what they were doing. Reports indicate Flemingsburg and Prestonburg have been dealing with the same issue at the same time.
“We are working to build relationships with those cities upstream so that we can know any issues heading our way,” said Hughes about steps being taking to be on top of these issues in the future.
“I only get burnt once,” said Richie who indicated they are testing twice a day and purchased a manganese tester.
“The river is an odd creature and it changes. The tester will allow us to do our own testing and be on top of issues,” he added.
The department staff has been flushing the 123 hydrants in the city to remove the brown water from the 50+-year-old pipes.
Initially, Richie had been dialing back the iron to address the issue but with testing showing iron negligible, the water was still brown. The flushing of hydrants, which was due anyhow, is clearing the water out. Some take 15 minutes to run while others take 90 minutes.
The staff is also dealing with 15-20 dead ends where the pipes come to an end and the pressure is not strong enough to get the water completely cleared out.
“Today, we are flushing hydrants and Friday we will be hitting some trouble spots. Next week, we will deal with the dead end spots again,” said Hughes. “Everyday we are getting less calls from residents who have brown water.”
If any Falmouth residents are still having issues of brown water, they are encouraged to contact city hall at 859-654-6937.
While this issue is the immediate problem, testing of water for Falmouth residents is extensive.
Daily or hourly, Richie and his staff is testing for chlorine, PH, temperature, alkalinity, hardness, turbidity, fluoride, iron and with the new tester, manganese.
The water is also tested either monthly, quarterly or yearly for carbons, fluoride (over what is tested locally), lead and copper (every three years), and Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM). The amount of bacteria in the water is tested twice a month.