Water Worries: Lakeview residents concerned for health over discolored water

Bill Parker buys these jugs of water to drink. He then fills them up with water from his kitchen faucet or hose to show the town of Lakeview how drastic the color change is. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

For decades, Lakeview's residents have used or drank discolored water from their plumbing. Now, they're fed up.

Because of the yellow-brown water in their pipes, many don't drink it.

Residents like Bill Parker, who has lived in Lakeview for 11 years, collect water to show the town officials how bad it is - Parker says he holds off on showers until he needs them, usually a couple of times a week.

"I would filter it and drink it, but it's gotten to where I'm afraid of it now," Parker said.

For others, the water causes digestion problems.

"Pretty much every time I drink the water, within an hour, I'm in the bathroom with diarrhea," Russell McBurney, a three-year resident, said.

Even Lake County officials have to deal with the water color.

"it's not something you drink," District Attorney Sharon Forster said. "I drink bottled water; I give my dog bottled water."

Parker and his son, Chris, made their own signs saying, 'Town of Lakeview, fix my water!' in an effort to let Lakeview officials know their problems with the water.

"Yeah there's a lot of people who come by and take pictures, you know?" Parker said. "I think a lot of people are afraid to say anything because it just, you know, they don't want to stir up any water you know?"

The water takes on a yellow-brown color from the old piping, some pipes found by the public works's crews have been from the 1940's. Now, the pipes have manganese and iron in them that discolor the water.

Parker says he has gone to complain, but town leaders say they have only received a handful of complaints and only two people have actually gone to city council meetings to speak up on the water.

"We've had some people call up and say our water is browner than usual, what can I do?" Jeff Marshall, Public Works Director, said. "We usually indicate to them to flush their lines."

Flushing the lines seems to be the only reasonable, temporary fix the town can do. The town flushes the entire system a few times a year. Parker says that's not enough of a solution.

"My toilet has got a one and a half gallon flipper that holds the water - it's black and I don't know why," Parker said. "I put this in brand new. It was white, yeah you can see it was white. It's been a few years but you try to clean it and you just give up after awhile."

Parker's case may be dramatic, but it's not unique.

"Sometimes, it'll come out and just look like chocolate," Parker said of his outdoor hose spigot.

Forster, who lives across town from Parker has a similar problem and similar description.

"It almost looks like the color of peanut butter when it first starts coming out of the faucet," Forster said. "If you let it run, it clears up a little bit."

Forster has an apartment she's trying to rent out and that's where the above picture of the paintbrush came from. It was taken by contractors working on the apartment a couple of weeks ago. One of those contractors says the water sometimes still comes out looking like that.

"I was pretty shocked to see it had been published on Facebook," Forster said. "I didn't realize that had come out of my apartment."

Unfortunately, it's not just a residence problem either.

Tune in to News 10 at 6 on Feb. 7th to read on who else is affected and solutions the town has presented to solve the water problem.

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