Town hall addresses West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority study, water quality concerns

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MOULTON, Ala. -  Water quality stays on the forefront of the minds of West Morgan-East Lawrence (WMEL) customers.

A number of federal regulators stood ready for WMEL customers with good news about their new filtration system.

"It was put in place in September this year," explained Edward Poolos, the north Alabama manager of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). "Since that time there as been no detection in the drinking water of the chemicals of concern."

In January and February 2016, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry collected blood and urine samples from 46 people who had participated in the 2010 exposure investigation, according to an agency news release.

The investigation shows that chemical levels in residents are going down in the people they've tested.

Most people asked a few questions and moved along, but not all.

The loudest group was Warriors for Clean Water. They moved from table to table, questioning leaders, saying they were unable to answer their questions.

At one point, the group began chanting 'We want to be tested!'

"People want a clear cut answer to the question, 'can i drink the water, can i get cancer from this,' and that information is just not known," explained Dr. Scott Harris, area health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

That unknown was the source of the group's problem.

"I do believe that these are sincere people," said Warriors for Clean Water member Cheryl Shikles. "But I think all of us would like to know how much we've been damaged."

Other members of the group were a bit more aggressive.

"You're job is to take care of it, and you failed, you failed miserably," said Ron Mixon with the group. He boldly spearheaded the tense conversation with various officials. "You failed all the population. You got sick people, dying people up here, and it's on your shoulders."

Leaders from all the organizations stress that the water is safe to drink, and there isn't enough evidence to concretely tie the chemicals to any health risk.