Originally created 08/08/99

Yellow water upsets residents



Some south Richmond County residents are angry and concerned that they've had bright-yellow, iron-tainted water flowing from their faucets for the past two weeks.

Some claim that the water may be the reason several residents along Horseshoe Road have become sick recently.

Mary Gemmill said Saturday she first noticed the discolored water when she drew her bath, adding that it ruined a cut of beef she attempted to prepare for her daughter and husband last week.

"The water was so yellow in the toilet that I had been yelling at the kids telling them to flush," Ms. Gemmill said.

"Now, there are two people in my house who are sick. And the neighbor's boy, he was really sick."

The discoloration began when the county added the Augusta Corporate well -- formerly known as the Kimberly Clark well -- to the water system July 26, said Augusta Utilities Director Max Hicks.

"Anytime you have a change in the (water) flow direction, you can stir up some iron particles," Mr. Hicks said.

The majority of the homes affected by the discoloration are near the Horseshoe Road and Georgia Highway 56 intersection, which is about 1,000 yards from the elevated tank that connects the well lines to the county system.

Crews opened several fire hydrants Saturday to flush the system. Mr. Hicks said the water has been tested and contains the needed amount of chlorine to kill bacteria.

"I'm not an M.D.," Mr. Hicks said. "But I know that the water is bacteriologically safe. The water is not dangerous. It's safe to drink."

But people don't want to drink water that's not clear, said resident Angel de Jesus. He said that before two weeks ago, discolored water had never run out of his faucets in the 4 1/2 years he has lived on Horseshoe Road.

He and his wife, Madeline, now use a water purifier when they consume county water.

Others have taken a different course.

"We went to bottled water last week," Ms. Gemmill said.

Clarissa J. Walker covers south Richmond County for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.