JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – Pisgah is a small town with what residents consider a big problem. That problem is the water and the system it’s coming from. Depending on who you speak to, residents and town administrators alike will say the dirty water has been around for between 2 and 15 years.
“I’ve got a two-year-old daughter. When my wife fills that bathtub up and it’s brown, it’s not a good night,” said jessie Daniel, a longtime Pisgah resident.
Everyone News 19 talked to in Pisgah said they don’t drink the water, even on the better days when the water is mostly clear. Cooking and taking care of pets is becoming a serious chore as well.
“They drink filtered water now. I mean we have an old dog and we don’t want him drinking that mess,” said Vivan Harris, a Pisgah Resident.
Below is a clean water filter installed by one resident after continued issues with dirty water. The brownish filter has been replaced twice. One was installed around Labor Day. The mold is from being held in a bag with moisture.
The local Dollar General is a frequent stop to replenish bottled water. The costs associated with the dirty water doesn’t stop there.
“It got to the point to where we couldn’t buy anymore white clothes. We knew they would be dingy after awhile. I’ve been through several appliances. I’ve probably been through 5 washing machines in the past 15-years,” said Daniel’s
“The washing machine messed up. I called the repairman and he says it’s due to dirty water,” said another resident who wished to remain anonymous.
Why is the water brown? The Town of Pisgah says it can be a number of things.
Mayor Leamon Smith was not available for interview but Smith and his clerk explained the towns water tank needs rehab work along with potential sediment cleaning. They believe there could be a decade’s worth of sediment buildup in the tank.
Several fixes to meters and apparatuses are also needed. The town says they have to spend hours flushing lines to prevent sitting water because some residents don’t turn on their water as much.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management in April made 451,000 available to make fixes to the system. The town says they’ve already used over a million dollars from grants. Some of that was used to replace roughly 85 percent of outdated piping.
Still the issues have been around between 2 and 10 years depending on where you live in Pisgah.
“When we have to buy extra water and it’s iffy to bathe in, it’s too slow of a process. They need to get on it quicker,” said Harris.
“I wish they had been faster, earlier. Hah…I believe now enough people have talked to them. I believe they are focusing on the issue now,” said an anonymous resident.
The debate on how long the problem has been around and why it wasn’t fixed earlier will linger on in Pisgah. However, residents all share one frustration when it comes to water testing done by ADEM.
Pisgah town leaders say ADEM has tested the water and it was safe to drink. News 19 reached out to ADEM to find out when they tested and if they tested the clearly contaminated water. News 19 is reviewing a response that arrived after this story aired.
As for the residents, they have their doubts when it comes to the safety of their water.
“I hate to say I don’t believe them. But even though they say it’s safe we still won’t drink it,” said Harris.
“I believe them to a point. The evidence is clear there’s a problem with the water,” said an anonymous resident.
The Pisgah water system connects to 486 properties. Neighboring Dutton has more than 1,000 people on their water system. When there’s a fire or a fire hydrant is flushed in Pisgah, everyone loses water pressure and sludge eventually comes from the faucet.
Jessie Daniel’s only see’s one timely resolution to this problem.
“Dutton water has agreed to run a line to about where those cows are and put me a meter in,” said Daniel’s as he pointed across the street.
In order to have lines dug and to be absorbed to a new water system, the Pisgah town council will have to agree to let Daniel’s leave. There’s a chance they will decline his request. Citing a concern that more residents will follow.
Daniel’s says he loves Pisgah. He just loves his family more.
“I just want what’s best for them. Be it playing sports or school…Or getting clean drinking water. I’ve got to do what’s best for them,” said Daniel’s.
News 19 will air an update soon with more information from ADEM as to their involvement with this ongoing issue in Pisgah.
Town leadership tells News 19 they recently found a qualified engineer to better manage the water system after one man left for another job. Pisgah will be testing for more issues within the system this week.