Newtown residents hopeful with ongoing water main replacement project but still have concerns

Improvements being made to Newtown water mains

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery Water works is in the middle of a project to replace between 13 and 14,000 feet of water mains in the Newtown community.

Resident Anthony Tucker said those who have lived here have complained about the quality of their water for years. He said it is brown in color and particles settle at the bottom.

“No, I don’t feel safe with this water period," said Tucker.

Tucker now buys bottled water to drink, but still has concern.

“You end up dealing with the water either way because you can’t buy enough water to cook with and if you have a big family everyone has to bathe,” said Tucker.

Resident Willie James replaced all the pipes in his home hoping to solve the issue, but it didn’t fix it.

“I still see brown stains in my tub and in my sink when I am brushing my teeth,” said James.

Tucker, James, and many other residents say they made sure Montgomery Water Works was aware of the issue.

“We expect a certain level of quality when we purchase water when we purchase every month," said Staffone Williams, Newtown community resident.

Montgomery Water Works maintains the water is safe to drink.

“The color comes from iron it is a secondary containment. It is basically not a health concern of any kind,” said Henrique Rizzo, assistant manager at Montgomery Water Works.

Montgomery Water Works has a program where the board replaces water mains throughout the city every year. It is about a $5 million a year program. Rizzo said this project that was on the docket starting late last year.

“There are several things that get evaluated as part of that. Whether or not there are main breaks, the age of the pipe, complaints from customers," said Rizzo. “We were getting more complaints and so that kind of elevated it to where that was the next project.”

In November of 2018 Montgomery Water Works started flushing the lines at the end of the streets as part of a temporary solution.

“The number of homes reduced over time so they don’t use as much water, and this is the source of some of this problem. For an immediate solution we started flushing the lines at the end of the streets,” said Rizzo.

Right now crews are in the middle of replacing nearly three miles of water lines in the community.

“The pipes very in age. If I have to say an average number is probably 80 years old. Some might be a little more or a little less. This project is going to replace every line that has not been replaced yet,” said Rizzo.

Rizzo points out the new PVC pipe being laid out has its advantages.

“It is a lighter material for construction and most importantly it is easier for maintenance purposes. It doesn’t corrode, and that is a big one, so we have less breaks on PVC pipe than on iron,” said Rizzo.

The work is expected to be done in the Spring of 2019. The cost of this main replacement project is roughly a $1.5 dollar project.

“We should see a considerable improvement," said Rizzo.

Residents like Sharon Harris are hopeful.

“It has been a long time coming. We have been neglected for too long," said Harris.

But residents are not completely satisfied.

“With them doing hard flushing and replacing the pipes that raises our level of concern in terms of safety. This is validation for us that have been complaining that there is a problem and now we have to get to the point of how we will fix it. We have to get to the truth, said Staffone Williams.

Residents in the Newtown community have planned a community meeting for Thursday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Newtown Community Center on North Decatur Street.

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