Officials: Jax Water Safe to Drink
By Ben Cunningham
Assistant Metro Editor
JACKSONVILLE — Utility crews Monday night were working to dilute the city’s
drinking water to return fluoride levels to normal, and said the water was safe
Chris Patterson, manager of the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants,
said a pair of unrelated problems had work crews and water customers concerned
Around 4 a.m. the Utility Department was notified of a break in a water main
along Pelham Road, Patterson said. The break allowed sediment to seep into the
water system, showing up as a yellow, brown or reddish-brown color in water
drawn from taps.
Utility crews initially thought the break was responsible for
higher-than-normal levels of fluoride in the water, he said. But eventually, it
was discovered a line had cracked in the city’s water treatment plant at
Germania Springs allowing more of the chemical to seep into the system. Flouride
is added to drinking water to help develop tooth enamel. Extremely high doses of
the chemical can cause sickness, but Patterson said levels in Jacksonville never
reached that point Monday. Some customers may have detected a metallic taste or
smell in their water, he said.
Neither the sediment nor the elevated fluoride levels were dangerous,
“It’s not a health hazard, it’s an aesthetic problem,” he said.
Officials had urged residents to avoid drinking or cooking with the water
Officials with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management visited the
city to monitor and advise the city crews, Patterson said.
Customers can clear sediment from their lines by running water from their
taps until it is clear, he said.
Workers Monday night were mixing fluoride-free water into the system to
dilute the chemical back to normal levels. Patterson said some areas of the city
already were back to normal Monday night, with the rest of town expected to
follow by today or Wednesday.
About Ben Cunningham
Ben Cunningham is business editor and assistant metro
editor for The Anniston Star.
See story at The Anniston Star's website: www.annistonstar.com
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