Alabaster resident relays water woes to board

Published 11:50 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

When Patrick and Vicki Doonan first discovered orange-brown water filling the toilet in their Woodland Hills home, they assumed it was just a fluke flush.

So they flushed again, and more ill-colored, ill-smelling water whooshed in.

That was only the beginning.

“We also had problems with the water filter on the kitchen sink,” Patrick said. “We had to replace the filter cartridges every other day because they’d stop up with this brown sediment.”

The Doonans’ misfortune came to a head on Monday when Patrick brought a container of murky water to the Alabaster Water Board meeting, placed it before board members and asked, “Do any one of you want to drink the water from my house?”

The board declined, naturally.

The Doonans aren’t the only household plagued by unusable water. Several residents in the Woodland Hills subdivision share the Doonans’ frustration.

According to Patrick, several residents called the Alabaster Water Board office to complain. However, they were told the problem was theirs to solve, not the city’s.

“They told my wife, ‘There’s nothing wrong with the water. You live in an old subdivision. The problem is with your pipes.’”

Only after asking neighbors about their water clarity did the Doonans realize the problem was widespread. Patrick said no one at the water board office mentioned other complaints.

“Many people told me they had been in contact with the water board a month prior to when I first contacted them,” Patrick said. “I realized this was a much bigger problem than what the city was telling me. This wasn’t just my house.”

Patrick took it upon himself to send samples of his water to a testing facility in Decatur. The results showed increased levels of aluminum, iron, lead and trace amounts of coliform bacteria.

Water Board Manager Pete Lucas said the city has taken its own water samples and submitted them to an outside lab. The results are expected Friday.

Lucas attributes the discoloration and sediment to lime buildup breaking off old galvanized pipes. The city plans to replace the galvanized pipes with black polyurethane pipes Friday.

“Those lines will stay buildup-free and that will also get the particles out,” Lucas said.

Lucas suggests residents run their faucets for three to four minutes in the morning and after returning from work in the evening to rid their water of discoloration or particles.

Meanwhile, the Doonan household anticipates clean water.

“I just want this problem to go away,” Patrick said. “I believe the water board is concerned about the problem. I don’t believe the city of Alabaster is intentionally sending us bad water.”