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Despite new water filtration plant, Fortville residents say water is still discolored

The issue has been ongoing for months
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Posted at 7:00 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-20 19:00:04-05

FORTVILLE — Imagine turning on your faucet and finding yellow or brownish water.

That's been the reality for many Fortville residents for months.

It's an issue that continues to persist, despite the water company saying a new filtration plant would fix it.

Back in June, a number of residents told WRTV they were experiencing the issue.

RELATED: https://www.wrtv.com/news/local-news/fortville-residents-concerned-over-discolored-water-city-says-its-safe-to-drink-and-use

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Fortville Waterworks told WRTV then, that the water is safe to drink and use, but residents said they weren't sure if they trust it.

As you can imagine that mistrust has only grown as the months pass with continued issues.

"It's like pee water. I mean it just looks like pee. Or dark brown," Fortville resident Rachel Davis said.

Davis said it's been nearly a year since she first started having issues.

She thought, at the time, the construction downtown was to blame. But now she's not so sure.

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"The fact that it's just continuing to go on. And all the town will say is 'oh we're flushing the fire hydrants we have to flush them. The new water filtration has to go through.' I just don't, that's just excuses to me that they're not finding the cause to try and fix the problem," Rachel said.

Davis isn't alone. Dozens of Fortville residents are reporting issues.

Many fear bathing their children in the water.

Sierra Henderson turned on the faucet to bath her 2-month-old baby and quickly decided it wasn't worth it.

"It was nasty yellow looking. And it actually did have a little bit of an odor as well. Usually it doesn't," Henderson said. "It's disgusting I did not want to give him a bath in that. It's extremely frustrating, especially when I'm trying to get other things done. I had to run it for quite a long time before it actually cleared up."

Other Fortville residents have reported their laundry being stained from the water.

"I am washing my clothes in this water right now and I have to use special peroxide stuff just to make sure. Because I put white stuff in there and it comes out brown," Fortville resident Laura Rupp said.

Fortville Water Works, back in June, told WRTV the discolored water was due to high demand from increased lawn irrigation and the water facility being stretched to it's limits.

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They said a new water filtration plant would resolve issues, with the anticipation being "in the coming weeks."

In December, after more reports of water issues flooded into WRTV, the water company said they stood by their previous statements.

However, they did say the completion of the project kept getting pushed back.

Though the completion date for the treatment plant keeps getting pushed back. We have put out notices explaining how the construction issues and demand resulted in our having to postpone our annual hydrant flushing. Any rust that has settled in piping is removed during this process or when something else disturbs it as in a water leak or opening a fire hydrant. We've had several leaks with the slightly increased pressure including a recent 4" main break that resulted in a boil water advisory for part of the town. After repair, we had to blow off the line through hydrants which also stirred the rust up and caused the most recent issues with discolored water. Per IDEM, samples were taken from the affected area over 2 days, tested by the Indiana State Department of Health and found to be free of bacteria. Unfortunately, this may be an occasional issue until we can flush all the hydrants on our distribution system next spring.
Fortville Water Works

The water company also stated in December that the new plant was up and running on it's own despite construction, and was producing good clean water.

All 3 of our wells have been cleaned and refurbished as well as our aerator. We encourage customers to contact us if they have problems with their water, it helps us determine the cause. We try to investigate individual water quality issues as they are brought to our attention to help customers identify problems that may be within their own home or business.
Fortville Water Works

Despite this, residents are still reporting issues.

WRTV took concerns to the town council president, Tonya Davis who said the issues are hard to pinpoint. She added that there have been some misconceptions about the former plant.

"I think there's some misconceptions about what's actually happening and our facility was able to handle the water use prior to the new facility, but it was obviously stretched and stressed and very old," Tonya Davis said.

She says the stress on the system was due to it aging, despite what the water company had previously reported.

"Things were beginning to break down, and we're not not able to be repaired. So we chose to take the step forward to just make it better," Tonya said.

Residents say due to the issues they are turning to bottled water to drink, cook, and give their pets.

"I don't trust it. I can't trust it," Rupp said.

The council president said it's strange because the discoloration is so random. She thinks it's an issue with each homeowner's pipes.

"My home is new and I'm in old town Fortville next to my parents house that is one of the oldest houses there. They have old pipes so she's getting some brown water, I'm not getting any," Tonya said.

Tonya says pinpointing the discoloration has been difficult, but that they're hopeful it will be resolved soon.

"I would (drink the water). I would, and I have," Tonya said.

Tonya says the water is safe, though she recognizes why people might choose not to drink it.

"I don't think anybody's 100% sure what what is happening, why it's happening," Tonya said.

Tonya said some of the discoloration residents are seeing right now could be due to the town flushing the fire hydrants —something she said couldn't be done for more than a year due to the construction of the new site.

"I mean, it might might take more than one time to flush it. But that seems to be working well. Everything sitting at the main and not being able to, since we're not flushing it out, it's pushing that sediment out into your home," Tonya said.

Tonya recommends you add a filter to your home in the mean time.

"There are some process bugs, so to speak, that have to be worked out," Tonya said. "Sooner rather than later, we're going to have it resolved and it's not going to be such an issue."

Tonya said there is nothing to worry about, that they have standards they have to follow when providing water.

"I wouldn't be afraid to drink it because like I said, it's safe. Nobody wants to drink that, because you know there's stuff floating in it. But as far as the quality of the water, we'd never be able to put it out there if it doesn't meet those standards we have to meet. So nobody's gonna get dangerous water," she said.

Tonya said they hope all of the kinks with the new facility are worked out by summer.

If you are having issues, they recommend you call the utility company.