MILTON — Chuck Townsend Jr. and his wife have owned their home off Munson Highway for about two years; and, the couple say, they have endured a reccurring issue — discolored water.
Water in Townsend’s home comes from Berrydale Water System, a utility company that provides water to rural areas in Santa Rosa County.
"We’ve had the dirty water, or at least what looks [like] dirty to us, probably about three or four times now since May of 2016," Townsend said. "Not only is the water pretty dirty, but we’ve noticed grainy sand, dirt, grass. They had told us to get the meter reading off the side of the house and flush out the water from our house and they would credit us for the water we had used."
Townsend said after about half the day of letting the water run, it ran clear again. Months went by with no issues, and then it happened for a second time. Townsend repeated the process again, and the water ran clear.
"The third time it happened, what really sparked me to kind of want to dig deeper into the whole thing… my children go to a private school and I have to buy their uniforms," Townsend said. "A lot of the parts of their uniforms are white… it stained a good majority of their clothes, and they’re not cheap."
According to Greg Smith, principal officer of Berrydale Water System and a member of the company’s board of directors, Townsend’s claims are correct.
Smith said the water company flushes the water hydrants with a frequency required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The frequency depends on how much water is used, and since Townsend lives on a street where minimal amounts of water is used, their hydrant gets flushed less often.
According to Smith, the forestry department recently used water from their line when doing work in that area, which caused turbulence and stirred up sediment in the line. Smith said he also receives his water from Berrydale and has experienced the same issues before.
"That sediment will come into your house, stain your clothes, but it will come out if you bleach it, nine times out of 10," Smith said. "Our policy is to try to do the best thing we can… We’re a small community water system. Our board is all volunteers; we have one paid employee."
Smith said Townsend is invited to bring the stained clothes to the next board meeting and the board will vote to "do the right thing." In the meantime, Smith said they will start telling the various departments that use the water lines to use a different hydrant that gets more use.
As for health risks associated with the sediment in the water, Herman Davies, the environmental health director for the Santa Rosa County Health Department, said it’s hard to say whether it’s a health risk without actually testing the water to see what is in it.
According to Smith, Berrydale meets all FDEP requirements.