PERRY COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Residents in the Perry County city of Marion continue to deal with water issues in the wake of Hurricane Zeta and have been under under a water boil notice since Saturday.
After losing power in the hurricane a week ago, the city had to switch over to a reserve water well that has since been pumped dry of drinkable water. Marion Mayor Dexter Hinton says the water that is coming out of the faucet is safe to use for bathing but not for drinking or cooking.
Compounding the problem, Hinton said the county health department also shut down the meat department at the city’s only grocery store because they can’t use the water supply.
The mayor said water samples were taken Thursday and the results should be back later Friday or Monday to determine the water’s safety.
Friday afternoon, the City of Marion updated its residents on the situation through its social media pages, saying it does not anticipate having to turn off the water supply and explaining the situation further.
The Marion City Council has called a special meeting for Friday evening to discuss its water issues, and the time frame of a precautionary boil water notice.
The Alabama Department of Public Health was notified about the water issues on Thursday, according to Tracy Elmore, who serves as the ADPH Environmental Director for the West Central District.
Elmore said there was a problem with electricity for the city water system due to Zeta, and as a result of the power loss, the city had to begin using its reserve well water.
A week into use of the backup water, the reserve has been depleted. Now, the bottom of the well is pumping unusable water that’s filled with sediment, Elmore explained.
Elmore said it’s an ongoing issue and that ADPH has been notified that Marion is working to get a temporary fix from the county water system.
He added that the water treatment center’s power has since been restored. But that doesn’t immediately alleviate the problem, however. According to Elmore, the wells have to be refilled first to pump out the unusable water and sediment.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, said it was consulted before the water boil notice was issued and urged residents to following any instructions by the city or health department.
“Bacteriological samples were collected at various locations,” said M. Lynn Battle, the Chief of the ADEM Office of External Affairs. “The results from these samples will be used to determine if the boil water notice may be lifted in all or portions of the Marion distribution system. The City of Marion will contact ADEM to discuss any additional actions needed.”
Perry County Commissioner Albert Turner Jr. said the county health department has advised citizens and businesses in Marion not to consume the water, and added he’s looking for ways to fix the problem.
“I have reached out to our Federal officials as well to provide assistance and water trucks to our healthcare facilities," Turner said in a statement. “Our State officials are assisting in providing drinking water for our residents.”
Turner said 150 pallets of water were set to be delivered Friday morning and Saturday morning for 10 a.m. distributions.