Don't drink the water? Residents say water turns brown in River Oaks

River Oaks brown water safe to drink?

RIVER OAKS -- Even when the water from the faucet runs clear, Randy and Patsy Thompson won't drink it.

"Smells maybe like dirty feet," said Patsy.

"Distasteful," said Randy. "We have to go buy cases and cases of bottled water."

Amy Gallagher does the same.  She won't drink it, serve it to her dog, or even use it to wash her clothes.

"I feel like I'm in a third world country," she said.

And Kelly Baker won't bathe her 2-year-old daughter Kennedy in it.

"I'm not going to let her sit in the water, it's disgusting," Baker said.

All four live in River Oaks, a small city near Fort Worth, where residents report a disturbing problem. They say far too often, their tap water comes out brown.  The water has been clearer recently, but pictures from last month posted on social media show brown water filling bathtubs, sinks and washing machines.

"When you turn on your faucet or try to take a bath and it's brown, it's almost surreal," said Gallagher.

Residents say the issue with brown water has been going on for  years but got worse this summer. City officials say they have heard the complaints and working on it, even as they insist the water is safe.

"We don't want anybody to have brown water in their bathtub either," said John Paul Jones, with the River Oaks Water Department.

The department recently started flushing pipes and disinfecting the system with free chlorine. It's a process they undergo regularly, intended to improve water quality in the long term but that cause issues with water clarity.

City officials took WFAA to the city's water tower where treated water enters the system.  It appears to be crystal clear, and the believe much of the issue with the water happens further down the line.

"We have water lines out here that are cast iron, galvanized," said city administrator Marvin Gregory.  "Some of  them are as old as 70 to 80 years old."

River Oaks has funding from the state to start replacing those old water mains, an $8 million dollar project that may start as soon as November but could take years to complete.

"This is not something that's neglect. It's an old system that needs to be revamped and is going to be revamped," Gregory said.

It might take longer to convince some residents who have heard the plan but still don't trust the city or what's coming out of the tap.

"I think they have a confidence problem," said Gallagher.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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