Prentiss water customers say water is ‘dark as coffee’

HOBO STATION – For years, Big V Water Association customers have had to buy water for drinking and cooking.
Now, officials with the association are taking steps to remedy dirty water problems.
Martha Caldwell and almost two dozen of Big V’s 1,362 metered customers presented their concerns to the board last week during a regular meeting.
“We’ve had a water problem since the early ’90s,” Caldwell said. “Back then members circulated petitions and had several meetings with large attendance, but nothing was ever solved and everyone gave up.”
This time, however, they asked for help from the Public Service Commission, which sent investigator Scott Edwards to the meeting.
“We had a tough time just getting through to the association,” said PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley. “The investigator was there to alert the board to what complaints we were getting and see what they were doing to address the problems.”
Several water system customers brought jugs of water they had collected over the past several months to show the amount of sediment in it and ask what could be done.
“It’s as dark as coffee,” Caldwell said.
In addition to being unable to have telephone calls answered at the association office or messages returned, several other customers lodged complaints that included:
n Angie Caviness, a teacher at Hills Chapel, said the school’s drinking water fountain had to be covered up two or three times so far this year, and the school was never notified about any drinking water problem.
n Frances Swinney said she has had to buy water for household use the entire 16 years she has lived in the Hobo Station community, a move she’d never have made if she’d known about the poor water quality.
n Linda Shirley said she, too has been buying all household water since March 1996. The family, she said, starts the day by checking the water for coloration and pressure. Not only the family’s health, but also household appliances are affected by the bad water quality.
The PSC asked the health department to check the water for quality, and sent someone when the tests were conducted, Presley said. Though no bacteria was found, problems with the color of the water remain.
The association is taking action to solve the problems customers have identified, said association board President Jim Foster.
“One of their concerns was they couldn’t reach us by phone, so we’re adding two lines so don’t get an answering machine,” he said. “The other problem with dirty water, we’ve shut off one of the old wells that we think might be the problem.”
The system has one new well, but the two other wells are quite old, he said, as are many of the pipes throughout the system. What’s needed is a complete overhaul of the system, something the board voted to work toward by bringing a new engineer on board.
“It’s not going to be a quick fix, but will take time,” Foster said. “We know there are some grant monies available, and we’ll get the engineers to help us with that. We’ve had the two old dilapidated wells renovated, but they’re still not up to par.”
Foster said he knows construction of a Highway 30 bypass that has crossed many of the water system’s lines during the past year has caused some of the dirty water problems, but realizes that’s not all of it.
“We want to take steps to get these consumer complaints addressed,” Presley said.
“We’re going to follow up and check on the board’s action plan to see what’s actually being done to correct it.”

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal