Fayette apologizes for stinky water, delayed fix

The Fayette County Water System’s longtime director, Tony Parrott, issued a mea culpa Friday afternoon for the three-week-long stinky water mess.

“I truly apologize for the inconvenience we created for our water customers,” said Parrott. “The problem took too long to resolve and I want to assure the public that we have implemented daily raw water testing to assure we are obtaining water of the highest quality into the treatment facilities.”

The bad taste and smell were caused by two chemicals emitted by blue-green algae, a tiny plant that grew in Starr’s Mill Pond — the water intake point — with the resulting stinky and foul-tasting chemicals being pumped directly into the holding pond for fresh water at the water treatment plant itself.

But it took dozens of angry calls from irate water customers and many days before the system technicians finally figured out they had fingered the wrong culprit — a water temperature inversion — and the wrong lake — Lake Peachtree — as the source of the problems.

That revelation came after both the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and a private water quality consulting firm had been called in to help pinpoint the problem.

Other problems were found at the water plant as well, including the discovery that sludge in a drinking water storage lagoon had last been cleaned out more than a decade ago.

Below is the full news release emailed late Friday afternoon by County Clerk Floyd Jones:

“Independent Tests Show Water Problem Not Caused by ‘Inversion’

“County government moving forward on resolving other problems as odor issues disappear

“Fayette County, Georgia, May 30 [sic], 2013 – After the first week of problems in the water system resulting in taste and odor issues, the Fayette County government began working with the Georgia Environmental Division and a private consultant to rectify the problems.

‘The taste and odor issues were originally attributed to an inversion event in Lake Peachtree by Water System staff. Later, both EPD specialists and the private consultant thought the inversion diagnosis was incorrect.

“On May 29, the consultant, Stuart Jeffcoat of CH2MHill, received the results back from a comprehensive set of water tests. The tests revealed that the taste and odor concerns resulted from high readings of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) in Starr’s Mill Pond and geosmin in the raw water reservoir at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant. The raw water reservoir was fed by the Starr’s Mill Pond.

“Both geosmin and MIB are chemicals released by blue-green algae and are two of the most widely known causes of taste and odor in water systems. Neither chemical posed a health hazard.

“At the onset of the taste and odor problem, the Water System stopped pumping from Lake Peachtree and Starr’s Mill Pond. Since the real cause of the problem was an algae bloom in Starr’s Mill Pond with the water filling the raw water reservoir, the taste and odor problems continued for a second week.

“Staff from EPD told the county administration the water flowing from the Crosstown Plant was of the same quality as the prior week. The EPD staff also assisted the Water System with making the necessary corrections at the water treatment plant on May 16, with further assist from Jeffcoat on May 17. There was an immediate improvement in the water quality.

“On May 16 Fayette Chairman Steve Brown contacted the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority for assistance on removing affected water and sludge from the water treatment lagoons. Stephen Hogan from the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority worked with Jeffcoat on an action plan for cleaning the lagoons. EPD has approved the action plan and the work is proceeding.

“’I truly apologize for the inconvenience we created for our water customers,’ said Water System Director Tony Parrott. ‘The problem took too long to resolve and I want to assure the public that we have implemented daily raw water testing to assure we are obtaining water of the highest quality into the treatment facilities.’

“Other maintenance issues have been found at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant and some needed changes in the treatment process have been identified by Jeffcoat.

“Anyone still experiencing a bad taste or odor in their water should call the Fayette Water System at 770-461-1146.”

gislerf
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Stinky Water Apology Stinks

Fayette County Water System (FCSW) is negligent for allowing the ponds to fill with solids. The FCWS operations should budget funding for sludge removal every couple of years to allow sufficient room to promote settling prior to recirculation of decant water to the headworks of the plant. Allowing the sludge to build up results in an expensive maintenance problem and promotes poor water treatment - as evidenced by the current odor issue and one that occurred some 15 years ago. When FCWS recycles backwash water without treatment they are concentrating pathogens, (giardia virus and cryptosporidium cysts), and organic matter that were removed from the initial treatment and feeding this stinky water back into the treatment train. The odor in our water is most likely from reintroducing organic material. FCWS is fortunate they do not have some sort of public health problem rather than a taste and odor problem. This is not the kind of treatment practice that you want for people with compromised immune systems.

Study tells me that the general guideline is to limit recycling of backwash water to 10% of water being treated. FCWS operators are the reason they have the 10% recycling guideline!

Someone at the WTP should be held accountable. We the taxpayers/ratepayers do not need absorb a $320K hit--we took the $100+K hit in the '90s as a first time mistake, this time around is not a mistake, but failure to execute correctly.

Respectfully,
Fred Gisler

moelarrycurly
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Fred Gisler

You mean 7 plus feet depth of sludge that is so hardened that when WASA tried to help remove with their equipment and could not budge it is a sign of incompetence on the part of the Fayette County Water System management?

The same sludge that is in the photo on the front page of The Citizen today?

If that is what you are saying, then I agree with you.

NUK_1
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Apology not accepted

Just how STUPID can you be? Did either you or your water system employees not think to go test the alleged failure points of Lake Peachtree or Lake Horton? I did and the water was OK 3 WEEKS AGO, much better than what was coming out of my faucet in PTC.

How the hell can you be this incompetent? "It's Lake Peachtree!" No idiot, it wasn't. I cannot believe we have a whole department of complete morons who cannot see/smell/taste the obvious. If the SOURCE isn't the problem, it's rather obvious that the treatment is or you have the wrong source entirely.

Time to flush the water system indeed.

Steve Brown
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Water maintenance

We have an initial list from our consultant which is by no means a definitive list. We are trying to get the consultant on the creation of that complete list asap. EPD will be doing a through inspection this month as well.

Once we know what the total picture looks like, we will release it.

NUK_1
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Thanks Steve Brown

At least it's an update of some note.

BTW, while I may disagree with you on a lot of things, my comments were directed towards Parrot and not yourself. I don't think you're an idiot and have never questioned your intelligence. I think you're misguided as hell at times but certainly not stupid.

Husband and Fat...
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Nuk

Your right, SB is not an idiot. He's a GA grad, so I have to give him some kudos. I don't approve of his methods, but he was able to mastermind the last election to get the three amigos elected to give him the majority he desired.

The water and stormwater problems predate Mr. Brown and he is left holding the bag. I am watching closely how he handles this problem. After reading Mr. Chase's letter, it sure does look like we are in for a doozy of an EPD inspection and a lot of costs to be incurred for remediation due to the lack of routine maintenance and the failure in the management of the water department.

I thought that Mr. Brown was going to make the personnel changes last week, but now knowing that the EPD is coming in to perform an inspection, I suspect that Mr. Brown will wait until after the inspection to get rid of people.

Commission better hurry up and get this inspection done, because it looks like they are going to have to switch the stormwater splost to a water dept splost in order to be able to afford the needed repairs.

cogitoergofay
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Stormwater SPLOST to water

Stormwater SPLOST to water SPLOST and maybe to a sewage SPLOST (at least in PTC). All three are systemic failures, as we now know from this episode. Interesting that Messrs. Brown and Rapson both originated in Peachtree City and are now at the County level. The current "Stinky Water Crisis" is much more than a mere "inconvenience" and it will be interesting to see how the PTC Council reacts to this mess. Probably do nothing.

As for the EPD, for those of you that are expecting anything to come of their involvement you will be sorely disappointed. The first question they ask in any investigation is "Were there any dead bodies ?". They will probably do nothing and all of the managers will pat each other on the back for working overtime on putting a band-aid on a multi-jurisdictional, decades old failure.

moelarrycurly
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Hold your breath

For the upcoming estimates for what will be shocking repair and replacement costs due to the soon to be announced appalling lack of proper procedures and preventative maintenance under the current "management". The quip "stinky water" will take on new meaning. We will not only be holding our breath, but gasping for air.

Chairman Brown and Mr. Rapson are doing what is needed. It involves way more than the current mess. And more than I noted in a previous post of fishermen peeing in the lakes or errant golf balls.

fay79isus
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EPD "through inspection" ???

What exactly is a "through inspection" by our lazy, reluctant state regulators ?

They drive "through", say "We don't see nothing", and then get a plate a barbecue at Harold's on their way back to Atlanta? That ain't the least bit comforting, Steverino.

Y'all need a complete system inspection....

S. Lindsey
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Oh this is so true....
fay79isus wrote:

What exactly is a "through inspection" by our lazy, reluctant state regulators ?

They drive "through", say "We don't see nothing", and then get a plate a barbecue at Harold's on their way back to Atlanta? That ain't the least bit comforting,

I can not tell you how many times PER WEEK I walk into a Industrial site that has not seen an inspection in YEARS and are a Environmental NIGHTMARE and don't even ask for paperwork...

No don't count on the EPD unless it involves CYOA....

Husband and Fat...
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So wait for EPD Inspections

and then fire staff?

Husband and Fat...
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Mr. Brown

After all your talk last week (on tv and when you popped into the blogs) advising us of this upcoming press release, we expected more.

Where is the information on the failed maintenance? Where are the serious looks at the employment situation?

Sending Mr. Parrott out to do your dirty work is not enough. I'm sorry for the "inconvenience" is fine and dandy if it was a one day mistake. It's obvious there are deeper issues and you as the chairman are expected to demonstrate leadership.

Please tell us about the maintenance issues, the employees not certified to manage equipment they were operating, and tell us why the water service lied to you and us about the cause until the state had to come in.

AtHomeGym
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H & F & Leadership Issues

Surely by now you know that the Dept Directors DO NOT work for the Chairman but for the County Administrator. Or did that little issue slide right by you?

Husband and Fat...
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AHG - your right, but it was anti-climatic

The county manager is the man in charge and perhaps he should issued the press release instead of Mr. Parrott. I simply assumed the press release was comin from Mr. Brown when he came on line Thursday and told us the press release was going to be issued Thursday or Friday.

I thought about it a little more this afternoon. Was it not the current commission that gave themselves authority to bypass the county manager if they had questions and wanted to go directly to the source? I know the problem was not inoccuous. But it was very important to those with low immune systems and the general public. If any of these protégés took notice, Mr. Brown rose to the position because he was a maverick and wouldn't let go of a problem until he got his way.

When Mr. Brown stated on TV that people's employments were in jeopardy, I expected more from this press release. It was anti climatic.

I now wonder if Mr. Brown meant when he stated that everyone's employment was in jepordy.

tortugaocho
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Long term incompetence, yes,

Long term incompetence, yes, but no jobs will ever be at risk over these water issues either in Fayette County. Steve Brown, the dramatic crusader against developers and insider politics, has now morphed into the consummate "company man". People should have been fired in Fayette County and Peachtree City. This notion of "we're doing the best we can" is not good enough

fayettehuntman
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Long term incompetence, yes, but no jobs will ever be at risk

"Long term incompetence, yes, but no jobs will ever be at risk over these water issues either in Fayette County. Steve Brown, the dramatic crusader against developers and insider politics, has now morphed into the consummate "company man". People should have been fired in Fayette County and Peachtree City. This notion of "we're doing the best we can" is not good enough"

Sad but probably true.

This is government at work....typical....private enterprise would not be able to compete at this level of incompetence.....but government has no competition...and often does not have to answer to anyone other than the press...if the press complies....then there are no serious long term consequences....this whole mess is sickening....

Husband and Fat...
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Ok - Rapson

Why didn't he issue this.

I only asked for Mr. Brown because he came on here Thursday indicating a press release. I assumed it would be him.

This appears to be a setup for something.

mudcat
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Might want to address the 14-year gap

Haven't cleaned out the sludge since 1999? I'm thinking that could be part of the problem.
Maybe he can blame it on Peachtree City somehow. Let's see, who was the mayor back then?

tortugaocho
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"I apologize for the inconvenience"

I'm sorry Mr. Parrott--- that sounds like an "I'm sorry" from Typhoid Mary.

This whole experience teaches us a lot about politics. Steve Brown, the dramatic crusader against developers and insider politics, has now morphed into the consummate "company man". First he retained all of the county personnel and professionals and now he overlooks a catastrophic health occurrence with no real concern. People should have been fired in Fayette County and Peachtree City. This notion of "we're doing the best we can" is not good enough. Whether its drinking water or stormwater we will always get the technical run-around from these people.

Tony Parrot is the mascot for this type of thinking. For years, his attitude has been "we comply with federal requirements". Now, after having subjected thousands of Fayette Countians and their families to drinking unhealthy water all he can say is "I apologize". Meanwhile, remarkably, Brown is silent.

The final question that no one has asked and no one has answered---- are they certain there were no health risks to this polluted water being consumed by us ?

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