*This report aired Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.
TALBOT COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL)— Residents of a Talbot County neighborhood plead for assistance from the Commissioners Board after not having water for four consecutive days—a pattern they say is not uncommon.
Monday, Oct. 3 residents of Oak Mountain Estates joined the Talbot County Board of Commissioners meeting demanding action after sporadic water outages have left them without water for days at a time. Residents share this issue spans back nearly three years and has only worsened with the population increase.
One couple, Sherri and Eric Cummings, filed their first complaint in March of 2020 (attached to the right).
“We moved in December of 2019 and shortly started realizing that we were having low water pressure issues, which turned into calling in regularly on a regular basis to the water authority to try to get it resolved. We experienced several weekends where we started noticing that the water towers that are just up the road from our house, if they got below a certain level that we would have not only lose water pressure, but we would have no water,” she shared.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources opened an investigation into the issue Sept. 23, 2022. They found the pressure of the water to be below the mandatory amount—which is 20 PSI (pounds per square inch). The Environmental Protection Division gave Talbot County a deadline of 30 days from Sept. 28, 2022, to produce a permanent solution to the fluctuating water pressure.
Talbot County Water Works is contracted to receive water from the City of Manchester Water Department. However, once the water tanks in Manchester have been filled, they stop pumping leaving residents located at the highest elevation in Oak Mountain Estates without water for days at a time.
“The City of Manchester tells me this morning their tank levels are falling, so they’re getting most of the flow is going to them. That’s the issue, and until we get the engineers to where they can get more water flown to us, we’re going to continue to have that. Of course, this problem has been, like you said for a long time,” Assistant County Manager Ronnie Hendricks said during the meeting.
Monday, Oct. 3, residents requested the county provide drinking water, an updated contract with the City of Manchester Water Department, and financial cuts from their water bill they continue to pay to Talbot County despite not having consistent water.
“The fact is… we still don’t have water and we have children that haven’t had baths because we have no water. Most of the time we will have water midweek, sometimes not all the time, always on a Monday we have no water,” Oak Mountain Estates HOA President Teresa McCool said.
County Manager Ison shared the county has been seeking outside resources to address the problem. “We have applied for two grants, for the water system, and have gotten denied for those over the last year,” Ison informed. The rest of the conversation went like this.
Teresa McCool: “Did they give a reason?”
Carol Ison: “They said that other projects that they were received were ‘top priority.’
Teresa McCool: “I would think that…”
Carol Ison: “Just so y’all know we are… we do try but those are the things that we hit obstacles just like y’all do and it’s very frustrating.”
Teresa McCool: “I would think being a health risk is top priority over anything, children’s lives are here.”
Residents say once their water is working— they must turn on all of their faucets to get air out of the lines. That water they are paying for is still unusable due to its dark brown, misty nature.
“We need to see something happening because it’s been two years now and nothing’s happening,” Cummings said, “Actions speak louder than words, you know. Where is the improvement?”
While only the residents at the highest elevation of Oak Mountain Estates are affected by these outages, several other residents who are unaffected have spoken out at the meetings and reached out to public officials and agencies requesting a change.
Another meeting was held Monday, Oct. 10, residents were given updates on the water issue and what the county is doing to mediate the situation. More information will be aired tonight, Oct. 10, in our 5, 5:30, and 6 p.m. newscasts. WRBL will also post that update on web later today as well.