End in sight to Hamlet water woes

Brown: ‘I think it’s run its course’
If smell is still coming from cold water use, call the Water Plant at 910-582-1117

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Previous coverage: July 14 — ‘No health issue’ with Hamlet water

HAMLET — The cause of the unpleasant odor in Hamlet’s water lines could be dead algae, a bad luck run of hot summer sun or a new form of copper sulphate used to treat Water Lake, Robert Brown said.

At no time has the water been unsafe for consumption, Brown said, despite many residents’ reporting they have switched to purchasing bottled water until the problem is resolved.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Robert Brown, water treatment plant superintendent for the city of Hamlet, collects water to drink while flushing a water line Thursday morning along Hylan Avenue.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Robert Brown, water treatment plant superintendent for the city of Hamlet, collects water to drink while flushing a water line Thursday morning along Hylan Avenue.

Brown, superintendent at the city’s water treatment plant, told The Pee Dee Post Thursday morning as he was in the 800 block of Hylan Avenue to flush a portion of the system’s 100-plus miles of underground pipes that it could be a combination of all three factors.

“For me, it’s about trying to fix the issue,” Brown said of water that has been described as “dusty” or “earthy tasting.”

“We still don’t know 100 percent what happened,” he said. “I don’t know whether we just didn’t get a good handle on the (new) product. Whether it was that that bit us or Mother Nature … in my opinion, maybe it was both.”

Flushing the lines began in earnest over the past week, Brown said. While the water at the plant is about as good as it’s going to get, that “doesn’t mean it’s going to be better for the customer yet.”

But the end is in sight. Work to flush the system, from the center of out much like spokes on a wheel, is in progress.

Brown said that each March or April, city workers treat Water Lake to manage the algae  — the idea is to stunt its growth, he said, not kill it, because killing it is one way to cause the bad odor. In years past, the crew has used a granulated form of copper sulphate. Brown said working with such material was labor intensive and time-consuming, so the crew this year went with a liquid form. The liquid form is easier and safer for city employees to manage, he said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Water flows from a fire hose at a controlled rate Thursday morning along Hylan Avenue. Work is ongoing to address foul-smelling water that to date has not been deemed a health hazard.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Water flows from a fire hose at a controlled rate Thursday morning along Hylan Avenue. Work is ongoing to address foul-smelling water that to date has not been deemed a health hazard.

Brown said he’s grateful to many of the system’s 10,000-plus customers who have called in with concerns. It helps him troubleshoot the problem, he said.

At this point, however, what will help resolve the issue best is to hear from those who are still experiencing the foul-smelling water come out of cold taps. That last part’s important, he said, because the foul-smelling water could be trapped in residents’ hot water heaters for a while. It’s possible homeowners could flush their hot water heater, which is a generally encouraged practice once a year anyway, Brown said.

“”If it’s just as bad today as it was a couple weeks ago, I need to know,” said Brown, whose office number is 910-582-1117.

Residents should leave their name and location as well as a phone number so Brown can follow up at a later date to see if the situation has improved.

Brown likened the situation to a wagon wheel and noted the wheel’s hub, or the water at the plant itself, would improve first before going to the outlying areas. The only good thing about that, he said, is that those living in the outlying areas also were the last ones to start noticing the smelly water.

Brown acknowledged the fix won’t happen overnight.

“It’s gonna take time,” Brown said. “We’ve got over 100 miles of pipe in the ground. It’s not a quick fix, just like it wasn’t a quick problem. I think it’s run its course.”

 

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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