INEZ, Ky. – The Martin County Water District gained the attention of nationally recognized environmentalist, Erin Brockovich after she commented and shared a video posted by a Martin County resident showing orange water flowing into a sink following a boil water advisory issued by the Martin County Water District on Feb. 17.
For several weeks, water outages and boil water advisories have plagued Martin County residents. A Boil Water Advisory was issued on Feb. 17 to residents by the Martin County Water District. The following day, the water district notified customers that water would be turned off for many residents. The statement issued explained that the turn off was, “due to valves being turned off to maintain tank levels due to weather.” On Feb. 23, another Boil Water Advisory was issued to residents.
Many have taken to posting photos and videos on Facebook with #MartinCountyWater. A Facebook group has been created called Martin County Safe Water Project which states, “This is a place where the citizens of Martin County can come together as a community to discuss the current status of our drinking water. I made this group so that we can come up with ideas to try and change things for the better. Here, we can post photos/videos, document every little detail about the problems we’re having as a result of the water ; discuss and brainstorm. We can change this.”
One video gained the attention of Brockovich. Brockovich shared the video and made the following statement, “Look, I understand distribution systems are subject to disruption… I get that, occasionally mechanics systems break down. It’s as much about how a utility deals with the problems and how they communicate to their customers. This is not okay! This is not safe drinking water!”
Brockovich continues stating, “Consumers must receive immediate notification. The utility should work with all of the impacted consumers directly. Consumers are now faced with the cost cleaning out all of their faucet screen, appliance screens and filters as well as their hot water heaters and home water treatment systems. Do not just sweep this under the rug. Be open and honest and in the end, we are in this together.”
On Feb. 23, The Martin County Water District released a statement on the district’s Facebook page addressing the issues water customers have faced since Feb. 15 2015. “The Martin County Water District has been experiencing affects from Winter Strom Octavia and Pandora Since Feb. 15, 2015 to present. Our system is currently depleted in water storage due to customer use to prevent freezing water lines, busted meters and a power outage which has caused one of our clarifiers at the plant to not function properly. Water storage has reached critical levels and will remain as such until the district can produce water and customer leaks have been identified and isolated.”
The statement continues, “Wide spread outages are currently being experienced throughout the Martin County Water District’s system and the district has issued a system wide Boil Water Advisory to protect its customers as service is restored.”
On Feb. 24, the water district issued another statement on Facebook lifting the Water Advisory for residence. The statement was issued by Mr. Damon White with the Division of Water.
Following the lift of the water advisory, residents continued to post photos indicating that problems were still apparent with their water. On Feb. 25, Josie Delong posted a photo showing black particles in the water in her bathtub and made the following statement, “Ours has little bits of black stuff like ash.”
A document shared by the Mountain Citizen showed Health- based Violations in 2015 for the Mountain County Water District that indicate higher than average levels of Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic acids. The document states that the standard for Trihalomethanes is 0.080 mg/L and that the standard for Haloacetic acids is 0.060 mg/l. The document indicates that levels were above standard throughout 2015. This is indicated in the document by the following level examples, “January 1 through March 31, 2015 Trihalomethanes were 0.094 mg/L and Haloacetic acids were 0.104 mg/L. April 1 through June 30, 2015, Trihalamethanes were 0.088 mg/L and Haloacetic acids were 0.083 mg/L. July 1 through September 30, 2015 Trihaomethanes were 0.081 mg/L and Haloacetic acids were 0.070 mg/L. October 1 through December 31, 2015 Trihalomethanes were 0.100 mg/L.”
A report was published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in Feb. 2013 concerning water treatment contaminants. The report states, “Scientists suspect that trihalomethanes in drinking water may cause thousands of cases of bladder cancer every year. These chemicals have also been linked to colon and rectal cancer, birth defects, low birth weight and miscarriage.”
More information on this subject can be found at www.ewg.org.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)