What's in Your Water: Part Two

What's in Your Water: Part Two

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Instant notification doesn't apply when it comes to water systems alerting their customer of boil water notices.

The Director of the Office of Environmental Health, Leslie Royals said most water associations are too small to alert customers of notices via mass texts or social media.

The Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the Bureau of Public Water Supply Karen Walters said water associations wait around 18 hours before the Mississippi Department of Health can tell them if their water samples are safe.

Walters said before you panic, there is a safety net:water operators.

"They are out there all the time making sure the chlorine residuals are in the proper range," Walters said. "That ensures that the disinfection process is working."

Royals said alerts change only when Coliform, E-Coli or other pathogens are found in the water.

"That is a mandatory alert," Royals said.

When associations tell the department of health about line breaks, repairs or loss of water pressure that is a precautionary boil water alert, according to Royals.

According to Walters, once associations have the alert the supplier has to make a diligent effort to inform the customer.

"Door hangers, phone calls, word of mouth , you know, just door to door making sure they have signs up," Walters said.

Since 1962, Leroy Scott, water operator for Eastabuchie Utility Association, has worked for water systems. He said the State Department of Health contacts the media and water facilities of boil water notices for the individual water departments.

During his more than 50 years of working with water associations, Scott has advised his customers of boil water notices with a sign on the facility's door, a sign at a local store and phone calls. Now, Scott said he is planning to add e-mail to the list.

Scott may be tweaking the way he reaches out to his customers, but the imperative task of making sure the water is safe is staying the same.

"We'll test it five or six times a week," Scott said.

Scott maintains multiple sites, and two samples of the systems water go to the Department of Health once a month.

Director of the Public Health Lab Daphne Ware said it's here where Scott's samples along with thousands of others are proven safe or contaminated.

"Our laboratory routinely performs about 60 different tests on drinking water samples, and we test about 100,000 samples every year," Ware said.