‘Muddy, nasty water.’ Why these Eastern Kentuckians are afraid to drink from their taps.

When service lines break near his home, Wilburn said the tap water can be muddy for days at a time.
Years of frequent boil water advisories and sometimes long stints of dirty water have gutted people’s trust in their tap water.
Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com Wilburn is a customer of Cawood Water District, which serves about 1,600 houses and businesses in Harlan County.
“If you’re over the number of (disinfection byproducts), then you’ve got to bring that down.” Safe Water Drinking Act Violations since 2008 Chart: Will Wright and John Stamper Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Get the data f in Since January 2016, water samples collected from the Martin County Water District have exceeded Safe Water Drinking Act limits for disinfection byproducts at least 12 times, according to data provided by the Kentucky Division of Water.
Cawood Water District has been in violation of the Safe Water Drinking Act every quarter for the last three years for violating public notice regulations, but not for water quality, according to EPA records.
‘It’s a basic human right’ In many areas, dirty tap water is the result of broken service lines and irregular pressure, but some residents in Martin County also fear residual effects from a coal slurry spill in 2000, when 250 million gallons of toxic sludge poured into the Tug Fork river.
The river remains the sole source of water for the Martin County Water District, which serves about 3,500 homes and businesses in the county.
“Water should be clear and odorless, and that’s something we don’t have here, and haven’t for a very long time,” Maynard said.
“People get aggravated with us when we put on the boil water (advisories), but you know, that’s a precaution,” she said.
I always used it.” Though she trusts the water, Pace said water districts throughout the region face major infrastructure issues that lead to outages, and those outages can impact people’s health and way of life.

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