September 2, 2009 10:56:00 AM
Starkville residents might experience some discoloration in their tap water in coming months, but city and state officials say it won''t be harmful to citizens'' health.
The Mississippi Department of Health is now requiring potable water suppliers in the state to phase in the new Ground Water Rule, published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act in November of 2006.
The new rule requires higher levels of chlorine in the system to protect consumers from potential contamination of the underground aquifers due to agricultural activities, septic tanks and leaking sewer lines. All of the water produced by the city of Starkville is pumped from underground aquifers.
According to Scott Thomas, chief drinking water operator for the city of Starkville, the higher levels of chlorine in the system may further oxidize existing deposits on the interior pipe walls and result in the water turning a brown color. This condition does not render the water unsafe to drink, but it may stain clothes that are washed with the discolored water.
But the condition is only temporary and will clear up as water is flushed from fire hydrants by city personnel and normal usage in the home, according to a city-issued press release.
The Starkville Fire Department also will be conducting flow tests of fire hydrants around the city over the next three to four months. According to Fire Department Chief Rodger Mann, the Mississippi Fire Rating Bureau requires annual flow testing of hydrants to ensure that they are functional and discharging the required amount of water to fight a fire in structures adjacent to them.
The increased water velocity associated with flow testing hydrants may also cause deposits on the pipe walls to dislodge and turn the water brown. In an effort to minimize the frequency of brown water events, the Starkville Fire Department will assist the Drinking Water Treatment Division by flow testing hydrants in areas of town where increased chlorine levels appear to be causing brown water. By coordinating these efforts, city officials hope to limit the inconvenience of discolored water to one single event instead of multiple events.
Customers experiencing discolored water are encouraged to report them to the city of Starkville Water and Sewer Maintenance office at 662-323-3505.
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