UPDATE: Water use restrictions have been lifted for all Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority and City of LaFayette water customers.
A second mobile water treatment system came online Thursday, boosting the supply of clean water flowing through the community.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: The Walker County Water & Sewage Authority says the boil water advisory has been lifted. The water use restrictions remain in effect for all WCWSA and City of LaFayette water customers.
Officials say a mobile water treatment plant was connected to the Walker County Water Treatment Plant to provide additional filtration to water being distributed to customers. A series of water quality tests were then required before the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) declared the water safe to drink.
The boil advisory served as a precaution after a routine test on June 29 resulted in a positive E. coli sample from a source well.
Testing efforts were increased, and the treated water sent to homes and businesses remained free of the bacteria during the advisory period.
EPD officials believe surface water got into the well. Animal waste in and around ponds, lakes and wetlands can leave E. coli in surface water. Fractures in the ground caused by drought, an earthquake and other geological changes can lead to surface water mixing with well water. Surface water requires a type of filtration the Walker County Water Treatment Plant is not currently capable of treating on its own.
A second mobile water treatment plant will be connected to the system in the days ahead. The second plant will increase the amount of treated water available, boosting the supply in the community. Until that occurs, customers of both the Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority and City of LaFayette are requested to continue following these water conservation guidelines:
Outdoor watering of lawns, gardens and trees is limited to a maximum of twice a week (even addresses and sites with no numbered address may water Wednesdays and Saturdays before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., while those in odd-numbered addresses may water on Thursdays and Sundays before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.)
Watering of personal food gardens is allowed any day before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.
PREVIOUS STORY: Some North Georgia residents said more should have been done to notify them about a boil water advisory, after an untreated water sample tested positive for E. Coli.
According to the Walker County Public Information Officer, Joe Legge, no physical letter went out as a warning to water customers.
Instead the County relied on its alert system and social media to spread the word, but some residents did not receive the information, leaving them to wonder if their water is affected.
Hayford McClain mowed his lawn Wednesday, but he can't water it.
It's part of the water restrictions placed on Walker County residents in an effort to conserve water.
"It's kind of aggravating really," said McClain, "The price of water goes up and then you can't use it."
If you get your water through the Walker County Water and Sewage Authority you are urged to boil it before you use it, or just use bottled water.
"We're paying for the water but we're not getting quality," said McClain.
The advisory is a precaution, because a week ago during a routine inspection at the water treatment plant a sample from a source well tested positive for E. coli prior to being treated.
Phyllis Cade said she's just happy the advisory affected her home and not her restaurant.
"I boil my water if I cook," explained Cade, "and for coffee I use bottled water."
An inconvenience for some and confusing for others.
Residents we spoke with were not sure if the advisory applied to them.
"It's concerning to know maybe some people do not know about it," urged Cade.
The people who did know said they weren't happy with how they found out.
The County sent a message through its alert system, but you only get those if you were signed up for them.
Legge said the county also relied heavily on social media and news outlets to spread the word.
"I found out about it on the news," explained McClain, "Nobody called me or nothing."
"The way I found out is just through texting," said Cade.
Some people said they wish the situation would have been handled differently.
"It feels kind of bad the County don't notify you to let you know what's going on other than in news," said McClain.
The advisory could last a few more weeks.
Bottom line -- if you're affected is all based on who gives you your water bill.
PREVIOUS STORY: Walker County residents said they are concerned after not getting enough notification about the boil water advisory, and some residents were not aware they were affected.
According to the Walker County public information officer, Joe Legge, residents were notified through the County’s alert system, if they were signed up. Customers who signed up for the service should have been notified by phone or text.
Legge also said the County relied heavily on social media and news outlets to get the word out.
No formal letter was issued via mail to residents under the advisory.
PREVIOUS STORY: The EPD has lifted the boil water advisory for the City of LaFayette water customers.
Walker Co. Water & Sewage Authority customers are still under the advisory.
PREVIOUS STORY: As a precaution, a boil water advisory will remain in effect until further notice for certain areas of Walker County. On Wednesday, a routine inspection of the Walker County Water Treatment plant resulted in a positive E. coli sample from a source well, prior to treatment.
The boil water advisory only affects a portion of Walker County. Water from the well is used to service about 5,900 homes and businesses in the Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority (WCWSA) and City of LaFayette districts.
The advisory area excludes anyone receiving water from Tennessee American, City of Chickamauga Water System, Walker County Rural Water, Dade County Water, Chattooga County Water, Dalton Utilities, Catoosa County Utility District and City of Fort Oglethorpe Water.
Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) officials believe surface water and/or storm water mixed with the well. A combination of the recent drought, geological changes and the wet spring may be to blame.
Out of an abundance of caution, testing efforts have been increased and there have been no positive samples from the treated water distributed to customers. Surface water requires a type of filtration the plant is not currently capable of treating.
WCWSA Board members and employees met with EPD officials Friday to evaluate short and long-term solutions. EPD agreed to expedite review of those plans, which include a portable filtration plant. Officials hope to have a solution in place within 14 days.
Since some of the proposed solutions would impact the available quantity of water in Walker County, Sole Commissioner and WCWSA Board Chair Shannon Whitfield and David Hamilton, LaFayette City Manager, issued a temporary water conservation declaration.
The following guidelines take effect immediately for all Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority and City of LaFayette water customers:
The following activities are not allowed:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offered these facts about what to do during a boil water advisory:
The following Google Map shows the affected area:
Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.