Moulton Water Stinks But Officials Say Safe To Drink

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MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) - We have a follow-up on a story we first brought you back in December. Lawrence County residents tell us their tap water tastes and smells bad. One viewer even wrote and told us she believes the water has made her sick. We're taking action and in this case getting some answers.

When we first visited this story, back in December of last year, we were told the unusual odor and taste of the water in Lawrence County was the result of seasonal changes in the county's reservoirs.

"That was what started us to realize we had a taste and odor problem. We tried to use the same treatment technique that's always been effective in my 17-to-18 years with water treatment, and then we realized there was more to it," Moulton Water Department Manager Greg Dutton tells WHNT News 19.

Not only has the water department been getting complaints from their customers, but restaurants owners in Moulton have been getting complaints from their customers because of the water. They say the ice tastes funny, so does their sweet tea. Even their fountain drinks have a strange taste.

Some restaurants, such as the Steak & Bisquit in Moulton, have gone so far as to install their own filtration systems in an effort to keep their customers happy.

"We complained to the city, complained to the city and they keep saying that they're working on it, but it's been 3 months and they ain't done nothing yet," says restaurant owner Jerry Hale.

Turns out it's not that they haven't done anything, it's what they've done hasn't worked. Officials say the culprit is a blue-green algea that grows in the reservoirs. It's a common thing but efforts to control it here over the past few months have simply failed. But Dutton says they believe they've found the solution, a new chemical process that has worked in other Alabama systems. He says they've placed an order and it should arrive early Friday morning.

"We'll be able to tell at the treatment plant within about 5 or 6 hours just simply by sniff test. But the customers out in the system, it'll be a couple of days." Dutton says it's important for customers to understand the water is safe to drink and use. He says they believe the unpleasant smell and taste will go away in just a few more days.

Dutton also tells WHNT News 19 they conduct regular tests on their water system, from various locations throughout the system. He says at no time has the bacteria level exceeded state and federal standards.

-- Al Whitaker