National News

Spencer residents complain about brown drinking water; city says it's safe

Posted July 28

— People who live in Spencer, TN, say they're fed up with their drinking water coming dark brown, clumpy and smelly.

One family sent News 4 a video of brown water pouring out of their faucet after dealing with the murky water off and on for nearly two years.

Edward Brimer said his water looks the same.

"It comes out black most of the time, looks like it's got coal dust in it," Brimer said.

When residents complained to the Spencer utility department, they said officials told them the water is safe to drink.

Thursday was the first time Brimer's water had been clear all week.

"A mud hole would be cleaner than what comes through them pipes most of the time," Brimer said. "It makes my clothes, they don't come white. I don't take and drink none of it. I don't feel it's safe to drink."

News 4 went to Spencer Mayor Mickey Robinson for answers on who said the water is safe.

"The city inspector has guidelines that we go by with state regulations," Robinson said. "The city is going by state regulations with the water and is on compliance with the state with the water and we are working diligently with the state."

Robinson is over the utility department and several other areas of government in the town of about 1,800 people. He said the water runs brown at his house too.

Robinson said the problem stems from elevated manganese minerals, which cause water to turn brown and taste like metal. He also blames a pipe burst on the mountain by the Spencer lake, where the town gets its water supply.

He said the town is in a water system upgrade - its first in 12 years.

"We have changed the modules down here. We put brand new modules in it. We've had the lake intake cleaned. We've had the clear well cleaned," Robinson said.

Still, the problem isn't solved. When viewers started taking videos on Friday, the city's water department determined manganese levels at were at .05 mg/L, which is the maximum limit allowed by the state for water to be declared safe to drink. Thursday, the manganese levels were back down to .029 mg/L after treatment.

For now, the mayor is offering apologies and asking anyone with dark water to let them know.

"I apologize to the citizens and anybody in Van Buren County that feel like we don't care," Robinson said. "We do care. We are out here. We are working for y'all. Please call us at any time let us know."

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