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City Council of Summerville issues update on Water Crisis

March 11th, 2020 – 1:00 PM

WZQZ Radio – 

(via WZQZ Radio) Several residents were at Monday night’s Summerville City Council meeting and expressed concerns about the city’s water system.  The city issued an advisory earlier this year after the Georgia Environmental Protection Division noted that the presence of two chemicals were higher than newly mandated Federal guidelines.

Mayor Harry Harvey reminded residents that the EPD has issued a “health advisory” and not a “do not drink order.”  According to the Mayor, the water is safe to drink for most people – the exceptions being those with compromised immune systems and women who are pregnant or nursing.

According to city officials, the city has been proactive in trying to find solutions to the problem.  One thing the city is doing is using a powder-activated carbon “slurry” to mix with the water supply.  City officials say that the carbon activated system has been successful in reducing the chemicals by ten parts per trillion – but that is no where near enough to meet Federal guidelines. However, the city is hopeful that they can keep experimenting with the powder-activated carbon and reduce the chemicals even more.

Basically the carbon is put into the water supply and attracts impurities that “stick” to the carbon which can then be filtered out.

Additionally, the city continues to pursue the drilling of wells as another solution to the problem.  City Manager Janice Galloway says that the well system will cost around $3 million when finished.  The city hopes to start with one well, and eventually drill another.  The water would be piped in a 16″ water line from the well sites to the filter plant at Racoon Creek.

When a resident at Monday night’s meeting asked if the city was any closer to finding out who dumped the chemicals that infiltrated the water system, City Manager Galloway said, “The EPD won’t point a finger at one person or group.”  Mayor Harvey added that the chemicals were legal and used in common products such as Teflon – coated cookware and even dental floss.  City Attorney Albert Palmour said that there are several class-action law suites that are ongoing by water providers across the nation and at some point the city could consider one or more of those law suites in order to help recoup the money that they are now having to invest in new water supplies.

In the mean time, the city continues to provide a tanker of water for anyone that wants to come with their own containers and get water.  That water is coming from Low Springs – the city’s other water treatment facility which is spring-fed and has passed EPD and EPA tests.

The city also says that they are working to provide a map for residents of the city to know if they are on the Low Springs water supply – which is fine – or the Racoon Creek water supply that doesn’t meet EPD standards.