North Marshall Utilities: The brown water issue is not hazardous, issue is fixed

Northeast Alabama
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GRANT, Ala. -- North Marshall Utilities customers had concerns about the safety of the brown water that was coming from their faucets.

"We have iron and manganese that has gotten through the water treatment plant, and that's what the color is in the water," explained North Marshall Utilities general manager, Jeff Sutphin.

Sutphin continued it stems from the raw water coming from the plant's intake point in Lake Guntersville.  "We have as much as 16 times the amount in the lake as we have ever seen before," he said.

That could be due to the lake weeds. "That's the only thing that's different, is the lake weeds are worse this year than they've ever been at our raw water intake," Sutphin added.

The utility company says the water is safe to drink and use. Several government sources report high levels of iron and manganese in water do not cause adverse health effects, though taste and surface staining can be a concern.

Crews battled the issue last week and drained the basins to try to combat it. "Sunday morning it was back again, and we had a choice of either putting the colored water out into the system or letting all of our customers run out of water," Sutphin said.

That water went into the system for about six hours until crews could bring new equipment to better fight the issue.

Company officials say this is something they have seen in the past, but say this is the worst that it's ever been. The company is using more chemicals to balance the water. Those chemicals are filtered out before the water goes out to customers. That's going to be the procedure until the lake goes back to normal.

"Everything is handled. The water that's leaving the plant is perfectly clear and good. It'll just take a little bit of time to displace all of the colored water and get it out of the system," Sutphin said.

That could take a couple of days at the most.

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