‘No health issue’ with Hamlet water

Odor blamed on dead algae rising to top as water “flips”

By Kevin Spradlin

Robert Brown said his office has received many calls expressing concern about an obnoxious odor coming from faucets but there is no safety issue.

This Google Maps image shows Water Lake, located northwest of Hamlet proper. More than 10,000 customers in Richmond County receive their water from Water Lake.

This Google Maps image shows Water Lake, located northwest of Hamlet proper. More than 10,000 customers in Richmond County receive their water from Water Lake.

“It’s just unpleasant,” said Brown, superintendent for the Hamlet Water Treatment Plant.

Brown told The Pee Dee Post earlier today that his office began receiving complaints a week ago from several of its more than 10,000 customers.

“Basically, the problem is the fact that we haven’t had much rain,” Brown said. “It has been a very hot and sunny summer so far. It is just … odors coming from (Water Lake).”

Brown said the odor is “just unpleasant. There is no health issue. We test our water daily.”

Workers also are required to send out 10 samples for bacteria testing to a certified lab each month. Brown said workers rotate between approximately 60 sites around the county.

“We normally don’t see this as bad as it is this year,” Brown said. “I’ve been here 28 years. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this, this time of year. We haven’t had a summer like this in a long time, either — bright, sunny hot days (and) very little rainfall.”

Brown explained that when it gets as hot as it has been, consistently, the water temperature on the surface want to “flip.” Usually, the cooler water is at the bottom and warmer water on the surface. This is called “lake turnover,” or “when the upper temperature and the bottom temperature get off balance.”

The average depth of the 65-acre lake is about 10 feet, Brown said, though at the point of intake the level is between 18 and 20 feet.

“In the shallower parts, because of the sun beating down on it, the water temperature becomes the same,” Brown said. “The water flips. In the spring and the fall is when you see it the most. As the warmer temperature now on the bottom, the cooler temperature on top … it brings up the stuff that’s on the bottom of the lake.”

That stuff includes plenty of dead algae, from which the odor stems.

You can’t see it, Brown said, but it’s there.

Brown said workers made a first adjustment of the depth of intake on July 10. It takes about a week, he said, for water users to notice any difference, if any. The closer a water user is to the water treatment plant, the sooner the difference, if any, can be detected by the water customer.

That means East Rockingham “would probably be the last ones for this to get resolved,” Brown said. “By the same token, they were the last ones who noticed the problem.”

Brown said workers will continue to make adjustments until the issue is abated.

The National Weather Service predicts a chance a showers and thunderstorms today through Wednesday, but it’s not known if any of the rain will be long enough to help resolve the problem naturally.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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  • Stacy Taylor

    First, its been days and I cannot believe noone has commented. I used to live on this water system and worked in an allied business that dealt with Hamlet residents. The water has had its problems.

    But, if I were a paying customer now, I would demand an immediate resolution.

    There is an expectation that drinking water is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

    When “Brown said the odor is ‘just unpleasant…,'” well, that’s jsut not acceptable.

    • Bill Payer

      I believe this nonsense has gone on long enough. The water still tastes the way dirt smells. I wouldn’t exactly know what dirt tastes like but I can guess this is it. Things better get fixed soon or you can expect an angry mob in front of the Water Dept…

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