‘It’s been hell’: Alabama water contamination has many searching for bottled water

originally posted on June 7, 2016


Officials are delaying plans to distribute bottled water in two north Alabama counties where a utility is warning residents not to drink tap water because of chemical contamination.

Fire departments will hand out bottled water in parts of Lawrence and Morgan counties beginning later this week. Plans to distribute water starting Monday were pushed back because of a delivery delay.

The West Morgan-East Limestone Water and Sewer Authority warned residents last week not to drink their tap water. The authority issued the warning about two chemicals in water from the Tennessee River.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently tightened its standards for the chemicals, resulting in the change. The authority’s warning goes further than guidance from the EPA, and the state says there’s no water crisis in the area.

Residents affected by the situation told WAFF they were angry about the possible contamination and the shortage of bottled water.

“It’s been hell,” Courtland resident Sheila Harvel told the station. “I want it fixed and I’d like to see truckloads of water come in here especially to get to these people who can’t afford it and the ones that are home-bound and can’t get up and go get it.”

Lisa Davis, a cashier at a Foodvalu grocery store in rural north Alabama, spent Friday ringing up bottled water sales.

Some customers got a six-pack; others bought jugs or a whole case. The scene was the same across the street at a Dollar General store, where a big metal cart once full of bottled water stood empty.

Davis, 41, said she and her two children will be fine during a dry spell that officials said could last until fall. But she’s worried about the less fortunate and elderly who may not have extra money to spend on bottled water.

“These older people who are on a fixed income can’t just go out and buy water,” she said. “They are paying water bills.”

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