Marion couple concerned about off-colored water at their home

Ron and Ruth Herbel talked about their rusty-brown water at Monday?s Marion City Council meeting and are appealing to other residents to come forward if they are having water problems, too.

During the public forum, the couple, who live at 611 S. Freeborn, brought in a gallon jar of the murky water as proof.

Ruth said they have had problems with the water for about two years, but on Nov. 12 it went from bad to worse when their grandson was visiting.

After bathing in the water, she said, he developed a rash, which was a good indication to them that something was very wrong.

For about two weeks after that incident, she said, the tap water was clearer, but as soon as the Thanksgiving weekend arrived and they had company, the problem resurfaced.

?It seems to happen with volume usage,? Ron said. ?We probably ran more than 500 gallons through the system.?

Marty Fredrickson, in charge of water and sewer, said 500 gallons of water should have been satifactory in flushing the system.

Councilor Stacey Collett asked about the age of the plumbing and type of pipes in the home.

Ron said the pipes are galvanized and 30 years old.

To help treat their water, Ron said they also have a reverse osmosis filtering system and even their filters were slimy after only short-term use.

The idea of a reverse osmosis system is to limit substances that cause unhealthy or unappealing water to include foul smells, tastes or colors.

Councilor Bill Holdeman, who lives one block from the Herbels, said he has not had any water problems.

Fredrickson is perplexed, too.

?We have been chasing down water problems since June,? he said, referring to a resident north of the Herbels.

Fredrickson has been checking lines, water mains and has been in touch with Kansas Rural Water.

He is also having the water tested for any contaminants, but the results aren?t in and as yet he has not come up with any tangible solutions.

?We have been tracing and eliminating some feeds to their (Herbels) house,? he said.

Fredrickson is urging residents to call his office if they are also experiencing water troubles.

?Right now, I don?t know which direction to go,? he said. ?We could keep chasing this problem (without public feedback).?

Ron said the water problem has to begin somewhere and he thinks if more people spoke up, it might help narrow the search.

The city is planning to replace water lines on South Coble, South Roosevelt and from Highland to South Freeborn, but those areas are not in Herbel?s neighborhood.

?What is the criteria for replacing water lines in the city?? Ron Herbel asked Fredrickson. ?The first criteria is money,? he said, ?then we look at low flows, size of the lines and the original material used.?

?In one of those areas,? Fredrickson said, ?we have a garden hose running 24/7 on one of the hydrants.?

The reason for the constant water flow is because of the low usage off that particular line.

?This is certainly no laughing matter,? said Mayor Mary Olson.

The Herbels said they are planning to replace water lines in their home and while they attribute part of the problem to their pipes, they don?t believe it?s all on their end.

Ruth said they live by St. Luke Hospital (535 S. Freeborn) and two houses south of Marion Family Physicians (537 S. Freeborn).

Residents who are seeing iron particles in their tap water, discoloration or have other concerns, should call the city office at 620-382-3703.

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