Red water turns some off

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 7, 2002

Ricky Sanders said he felt sick all day Thursday.

“There’s something wrong with the water,” he said. “I’ve been nauseous. Can’t keep anything down.”

Sanders lives on Small Avenue, and he’s not the only one who’s seen a discolored water coming from his spout.

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“It’s red. I’ve been going to the store all week buying fruit drinks so I don’t have to drink the water,” Sanders said.

Billy Hicks, chairman of the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board, said the water isn’t making anyone sick. He did say residents &045;&045; especially around downtown Selma &045;&045; might be getting an extra dose of iron if they drink the red water.

“We’re cleaning out the valves at the old plant,” Hicks said. “That plant is over 100 years old, and a lot of the water comes from there.”

The discolored water many have seen in their homes lately comes because Selma has an iron-removal treatment plant. However, the Selma Water Works is currently cleaning out valves from one of its older plants. And when that happens, Hicks said the water company has to shut off half of the iron-removal plant.

“It’s not bad for you,” he said. “And if you need to do some laundry, and the water looks dirty, you can get a crystal that will clear it up.”

While the cleaning of valves around Selma is one reason for the discolored water, work by the Selma Fire Department also has caused the water to change colors.

“They’re testing some of the fire hydrants around town,” Hicks said. “When they do that, especially in the downtown area, they stir up a lot of the water.”

According to Hicks, some of the pipes in downtown are cast-iron pipes that are fairly old.

“When they turn on those fire hydrants, some of the dust settled at the bottom stirs up and gets into the water.”

Regardless, Hicks said Selmians should not worry about the quality of their water. Just last month, the Alabama Department of Environmental Affairs said Selma has some of the best water anywhere in its annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

Hicks could not say when all the valves in Selma would be cleaned out.

“We’re trying to do two a week right now,” he said.