Local News

Foul Water Rankles Some Franklin County Residents

Posted September 11, 2005 1:44 a.m. EDT

— It smells bad and tastes like dirt.

That's how residents in Franklin County are describing their drinking water, which is hurting sales at some businesses, they said.

"Customers were sending my tea back because of the taste of it," Ron Johnson, owner of Johnsons Farmer's Market Restaurant, said. "On a day at lunch, we'll sell 100 bags of tea. Today, it was six."

Johnson said his customers have been descriptive about the water.

"I heard it taste like dirt, untreated lake water, mildew, Lysol, Pine Sol," Johnson said. "I've heard everything."

And it's not just the restaurant. Thousands of residents in Franklin County have complained about the quality of water.

Water managers said the recent nice weather was to blame.

The source for the water is Kerr Lake, and with warmer than normal temperatures this year and a recent dry spell, an algae bloom has given the water an earthy scent, Franklin County leaders said.

Bryce Mendenhall, the Franklin County utilities manager, said the water woes happen every year, but this year the smell and odor seem to have affected a wider area.

"They're just having to deal with Mother Nature, and sometimes you lose the battle with Mother Nature," Mendenhall said.

Plus, despite the foul smell and bad test, the water is not harmful, officials said. They added that residents should notice a major improvement in the quality of water in a couple of days.