Ga. EPD now sniffing stinky Fayette water


The problem with dirty smelling and tasting drinking water in portions of Peachtree City, Tyrone and the Fayetteville area continued through the past week and is now the subject of outside help from the Ga. Environmental Protection Division (EPD), an outside consultant and the Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) working in conjunction with the Fayette County Water system to bring the issues of stinky water to an end and help prevent such an occurrence in the future.

Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson on Friday reiterated that while he cannot provide a precise timeline that will see the end of the affected water running through residential and business water lines, he said the measures being taken and the protocols being set up are expected to help resolve the issue now and in the future.

Rapson said the mid-week contact between EPD and the county was essentially mutual.

“We called them and they called us to ask what was going on,” Rapson said of the condition of the water in some portions of Fayette County that began two weeks ago.

Rapson said he met late this past week with staff from EPD, WASA and the water system at the Crosstown water plant to discuss ideas from EPD that might mitigate the water problem in a more timely fashion. Rapson said he also authorized the hire of consulting firm CH2M HILL to help with the issue.

The timeline that included the potential for the water problem to clear up by the beginning of next week could still be in play though Rapson said he could not be certain. And Rapson on Friday morning said that a number of measures are being taken to both resolve the current problem and to put measures in place to help prevent a similar situation in the future.

Based on suggestions from EPD, Rapson said great strides are being made in addressing current and future issues, though he still has a concern about the residual issues related to the drinking water lagoon and the sludge removal. One of the measures being taken, with the help of WASA on Friday, was to remove the sludge from the drinking water lagoons such as Starr’s Mill Pond and flush it through the sewer system.

Fire departments were called on Wednesday to help purge affected water from the system, with the Peachtree City Fire Dept. flushing 30 water hydrants during the day. Hydrants had been flushed in the affected areas earlier in the week and last week to help clear the stinky water from the hundreds of miles of water lines in Fayette County. The request to cease flushing hydrants came from EPD after the meeting at the Crosstown water plant.

Meantime, Rapson said that the reports of problems with drinking water that totaled 40 calls per day earlier in the week had diminished to 10 calls by mid-day Thursday. Similarly, calls to Fayetteville decreased from 30 per day earlier in the week to less than 10 on Thursday, city officials said.

It was reported Tuesday by Fayette County Water System Assistant Director Russell Ray that water in the Crosstown plant has essentially been replaced though it would likely take several additional days, perhaps until early next week, to have the affected water run through the water system lines and the problem resolved.

Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown on Wednesday announced that the county would be stepping-up its response in purging undesirable water from the system, which was altered through a natural inversion event at Lake Peachtree.

“The bad taste and the odor has continued several days longer than our water experts had anticipated, meaning there was more affected water in the system than they previously thought” said Brown. “We are now committing the county to some more aggressive steps to flush the system at a much higher rate by adding fire personnel to the roster of people tapping our fire hydrants throughout the county.”

Ray on Tuesday provided a detailed explanation for what he said was the cause of the problem that surfaced more than two weeks ago.

“Prior to the taste and odor problem, we were pumping two sources of water to the Crosstown plant — Lake Peachtree and Starr’s Mill (Pond). Lake Peachtree has a history of causing taste and odor in the past, but not in recent years. Starr’s Mill typically has high iron and manganese; however, it may have contributed to the taste and odor problem also,” Ray said.

“Earthy or grassy odors are typically associated with chemical compounds produced by certain types of algae. Algae were seen in Starr’s Mill Pond. We add copper sulfate to Lake Peachtree routinely to keep algae growth to a minimum; however, with the heavy rain events this year, nutrients washed into the streams and lakes may have caused more algae growth than normal. This, along with decaying organic matter from lake mixing caused by temperature changes (reported previously by the water system) are the sources of the taste and odor,” Ray said.