FOX 8 Defenders: Northshore residents troubled with brown water may soon see relief

Updated: Oct. 3, 2019 at 4:57 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Jaclyn Hyer and her Mandeville neighbor Lisa McCarthy say they’ve both been seeing brown water come through their taps sporadically for the past 15 years, with the same message all the time.

“Every time I called with the water, it smells it’s brown they just say its fine there's nothing wrong,” said McCarthy.

Hyer says after continued dissatisfaction with the water company, H2O Guste Island Water, she says now, they've resigned to keep bottled water in the bathroom.

“It’s a necessity when you see the brown water you don’t want to put it in your mouth,” said Hyer.

In a statement, H2O Guste Island Water says in September they started to make an unprecedented repair in a well in the water system. While making the repair, the emergency water supply ran out and the utility needed to turn the water in the system back on triggering a boil water advisory.

A spokesperson with the utility said a likely combination of turning the well back on, in addition to a naturally occurring element, manganese residing in the pipes created the brown water. The utility says they're working to flush the entire system now, a process that will likely take three days to complete.

“The more manganese interaction with chlorine you have the browner it is,” said Don Marshall with the Tangipahoa Water District.

Marshall helped shed some light on manganese in water supply, explaining it's a naturally occurring element found in rocks and soil.

“You’re probably never going to have a real manganese problem in the water on the south shore because you’re getting it from river and lakes,” said Marshall. “We’re pulling this water from hundreds of thousands of feet below the earth.”

In Tangipahoa, Marshall explained they use a large filtration system to help filter out unwanted chemicals and elements, but it's not a solution for all water districts. He says chemically though, whenever manganese and chlorine come into contact it creates brown-looking water.

H2O Guste Island Water in a statement said they’re sending out samples to release the area from the boil-water advisory soon but are asking customers to be patient. Patience that Hyer and McCarthy say is wearing thin.

“It’s been on and off for years, we’ve learned to call, nothing happens so we stop calling,” said Hyer.

H2O Guste Island Water says customers should be seeing clearer water in the next couple of days.

They’re waiting for information back from samples to release the area from the boil water advisory.

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