Water Odor Now in Holly Bluff

BLYTHEWOOD (Oct. 20, 2016) – Stinky water once again dominated discussion during last month’s Town Council meeting when Holly Bluff neighborhood homeowners Marlin Hinds and James Smith addressed Council about the odor of the water in their homes.

“The odor comes out of the sinks and toilets. It’s so unbearable that you have to have additional odor eaters or plug-ins in your house. The minute one of those doesn’t work, you’re in a range of the odor. It’s unbearable,” Hinds told Council.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard of the water concerns in Holly Bluff,” Mayor J. Michael Ross responded, recalling that some Cobblestone residents had earlier this year complained of foul odor in their water, which is provided by the Town of Winnsboro. At that time, Ross called on all residents using Winnsboro water to have their water tested and report any odor problems to the Town.

But the water odor turned out to be isolated to the Cobblestone neighborhood and primarily in new construction sections, and testing proved the water to be safe at the source, Director of Winnsboro Water Otis Williams told the Voice.

“We think more and more that it’s an internal plumbing issue,” Williams said at the time. Williams also noted that some complainants were not having issues throughout their homes – only in one or two faucets. Williams would not speculate about what kind of plumbing materials were used in construction.

Nevertheless, Winnsboro took samples from fire hydrants in Primrose, Goldenrod and Summersweet Court in Cobblestone and sent them to the Engineering Performance Solutions labs in Jacksonville, Fla. for testing.

Blythewood Town Council, during their Feb. 22 meeting, reviewed the results, and Town Administrator Gary Parker told Council that, in short, the test results verified that the water was fine and fit to drink.

When asked Tuesday about the Holly Bluffs residents’ complaints, Parker speculated that stagnant water could be building up in lines in newly developed areas. Holly Bluffs has only 61 homes. In those areas not built out, Parker said, it may be that not enough homes are connected to the lines to provide a constant, steady flow of water.

“You have water that isn’t being circulated enough through the water lines because there are not enough houses built onto that line drafting water out of that line and keeping water circulating,” Parker said. “That can lead to some people noticing a taste or odor. That’s a common problem in lines.”

Williams told The Voice on Tuesday that Winnsboro had been out to Holly Bluffs and checked the fire hydrants and that the water from the source to the hydrants was fine.

“When there is an odor complaint, we come out and check everything up to the meter. Beyond that is the responsibility of the customer,” Williams said, adding that the same is true of leaks.

Hinds acknowledged that Winnsboro had been out to flush lines and that a customer contact person has been assigned to them to coordinate complaints and inspections. Smith said the next step is that his neighbors are now planning to systematically conduct their own testing through the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and that should be completed in about 60 days.

Hinds also informed Council that the water bills in his neighborhood are excessively high.

“Since January, my (water) bills have ranged from about $290 to $520, averaging $300 per month,” he said, adding that at least one monthly bill reflected water usage of 25,000 gallons.

“If that’s water only, that’s very high,” Parker said.

“I’m looking at their (Winnsboro’s) website, at their water rates,” Councilman Eddie Baughman told Council as he scanned his phone during the meeting. “Looking at a residential, out of county (rate), over 20,000 gallons a month is $12.89 per thousand gallons of water. So if you figure 25,000 gallons, you are in the neighborhood of $300.”

Hinds told The Voice that Winnsboro had come to his home and checked for leaks and found none.

Parker offered to help look into the billing issue if Hinds and Smith would like to bring their water bills to Town Hall. But at press time, Parker said he had not seen any bills.

“We’ll have our crackerjack town lawyer renegotiate that (Winnsboro water) contract in 2020,” Ross said, jokingly.

“I’ve been paying water bills in South Carolina since 1967,” the Town’s attorney Jim Meggs replied, “so I’ve got a little experience with this. I’ll be happy to help you gentlemen get to the bottom of this. I can’t imagine your bills being that high.”

“These bills will be priority for us,” Ross said.

 

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