Your water is safe to drink.
That’s the message that Madisonville Director of Water and Sewer Utilities Kevin Story wants local residents to know as they digest the results of the city’s annual drinking water quality report, made public last week.
“I’m happy with our water,” Story said. “I’m not going to work for the water department and drink water out of a bottle.”
The city had one violation in December 2013 in which they “failed to provide the results of lead tap water monitoring to the customers at the location water was tested,” according to the report. The violation was cleared in 2015, so there are no outstanding issues.
In addition to daily monitoring of local wells and responding to calls from residents, lead and copper samplings are done at 20 homes throughout the city every three years. City employees take a bottle to each of the 20 homes and ask the homeowner to take a sample from the cold tap of their kitchen faucets the following morning. It’s then tested at a lab.
Additionally, the city employees disinfect water at the local plant with chlorine and treat iron and manganese. “Dead-end water mains” are flushed once a month.
They do occasionally get brown water complaints, and Story encourages those who detect discolored water in their tap to call the city.
“We can go to a fire hydrant and flush it out,” he said. “Fire hydrants are there for fire protection and for flushing out water lines. It would take so much longer for [residents] to flush it out through their tap and it’s going to show up on their water bill if they do it that way.”
Story, who has worked in Madisonville for about 10 years and oversees the water and sewer systems, said he’s happy to respond to concerns about brown water.
“It comes with the territory,” he said. “I don’t mind people calling for whatever reason. That way I can get over and visit with them and talk to them face-to-face about their water issue.”
Water main breaks also cause brown water, he noted.
Occasionally a boil water notice must be issued if a sample comes back positive for bacteria. Those can be unreliable results, however, usually due to “operational error,” Story said.
“If you’re collecting on a windy day or a rainy day or have something on your finger, you could set it off,” he said. “Then we have a protocol we go through where we collect again from the confirmed spot, along with five houses upstream and five houses downstream. We take them to the lab, and usually that clears it up.”
Madisonville has some iron pipes in the ground that contribute to the groundwater and can sometimes cause a more metallic taste, Story said, noting that many big cities use PVC line.
“You can always do more but that comes with a price tag,” he said. “We’re just trying to do the best job we can. It’s tough. You can’t satisfy everybody. There’s a lot of stuff you can do to water to enhance it if you’ve got the money to do it. Disinfecting the water is my main priority. “