Sulphur residents who have complained about poor water quality might see some improvement by the end of the year.
At the Monday, April 12, Sulphur City Council meeting, council members Dru Ellender, Melinda Hardy, Joy Abshire and Mike Koonce voted to authorize the advertisement of bids for two phases of the Verdine Water Improvement Program — getting filters and installing filters.
“The problem may not have begun on our watch, but improvements will start on this watch,” Council President Mike Koonce said.
The city has 7,410 active, non-metered water accounts on the city water system. City of Sulphur spokesperson Erica Martin said “a few pocket areas” have issues with discolored water due to high iron content, mostly in the western and northern portions of the city.
Daniel Bullock’s home is in that area.
He decided to take samples of his water to the April 12 meeting. He didn’t know a plan for explaining why his water looks and smells like it does and plans for improving it would be a big part of that meeting.
“It’s been like this for two years. I drew this one this morning, and this one right before I came to the meeting,” he said, holding up first one-quart jar and then the other.
The liquid in the jars was murky and reddish brown. The first collected sample was darker at the bottom. Bullock pays a monthly flat fee to the city: $23 for non-metered water, a $1.25 capital recovery fee, a $1 fee for Department of Health and Hospitals Testing, $25.85 for non-metered sewer and $18.40 for garbage pick up.
“Using this water has caused my wife to break out in a rash,” Bullock said. “I’ve had to replace my hot water heater more often than I should have, and I just bought a new dishwasher because the high levels of iron in the water corrodes appliances.”
The toilet and sinks in his home are stained, he said.
Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay got Bulloch’s contact information after the meeting and promised to send out a worker to flush the lines.
The Southwest Daily News contacted Bulloch the following morning, and he said the water was “clearer, though not clear.”
Why does Bulloch’s water look like it does and what is being done about it?
Meyer & Associates is the city of Sulphur’s consulting firm, and has been for 30 years, making them familiar with the city’s infrastructure, according to Martin.
Wayne Harris, a senior project manager for Meyer and Associates, shed some light on the water issue. Verdine Water Treatment Plant, built in 1994 and the newer of the city’s two plants, consistently meets the required National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. It does not consistently meet recommendations of the National Secondary Drinking Water Standards for iron and manganese levels.