Hattiesburg residents see little relief, few answers for brown water

Hattiesburg residents see little relief, few answers for brown water

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Residents in Hattiesburg's Parkhaven neighborhood say the city isn't following through on agreements to to help them deal with discolored water, and some say they shouldn't be paying for water they can't drink.

Earlier this month, Mayor Johnny DuPree sent a letter to the Parkhaven Neighborhood Association laying out some solutions to at least warn residents when the water could be the most brown, like when fire hydrants are being flushed. However, neighborhood association president Staci Cox said neighbors still aren't being notified.

"We were promised a schedule," Cox said. "We have yet to receive a schedule of that, and (Monday), we had a few hydrants that were flushed. I was notified of just wide open fire hydrants with very brown water."

DuPree said the fire department does most of its hydrant testing in October and November, but said he isn't sure how the city could provide residents a schedule for hydrant flushing outside of those two months.

"I don't know how we could forewarn you that we're going to do it this time, but we'll work with you through the water and sewer and fire to make sure that if we know, that you'll receive those notices," DuPree said.

Parkhaven resident Joshua Tillman said he understands a permanent fix will take time, but said until there is one, he doesn't think he should be paying for water he can't use.

"I cannot use this, mayor," Tillman said. "I cannot drink this. You cannot drink this. This violates every clean water act law we have in the United States. You can't tell me this is clean water, it's not clean water. So why am I being billed for water I cannot drink? I don't believe that it's right to bill the residents of Parkhaven when, obviously, you can't provide a quality product. So does anybody on the city council or the mayor's office understand or can tell me how to get this bill alleviated?"

DuPree said the state doesn't allow a council or mayor to remove a bill or allow someone to not pay for water, but Tillman didn't accept that reasoning.

"So you're saying that the state of Mississippi does not allow you to correct the bill for a product you've served me that cannot be used?" Tillman asked.

DuPree said, "Well, I won't answer your question then. Someone will get in touch with you."

Cox said homeowners aren't the only people who have to make adjustments because the water isn't usable.

"A neighbor notified me that they had lunch in a local business within the neighborhood, which is Gold Post, and they were unable to have drinking water from the restaurant," Cox said. "Bottled water had to be served because it was too brown to be served."

The mayor ended Monday's citizen's forum, where the discussion took place, saying he would take the concerns under advisement at Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden's suggestion.