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Water, Water Everywhere: Punkin Water Association continues to address quality, pressure

The Punkin Water Association held its monthly board meeting Monday night, and was met with an audience full of customers.

Customers of Punkin Water have reported quality issues as far back as 10 years ago. In May, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley held a public hearing to address these issues, and ordered the board to: set a time and place for each monthly meeting and provide adequate notice, provide an updated copy of the bylaws to all board members and customers, maintain a website and provide updates regarding an agreement with the City of Oxford via a “master meter connection,” acquiring up to 250,000 gallons of water per day.

During the initial meeting, board members approved the hiring of a new meter reader, whom president John Davis said would be paid approximately $1.25 per meter and furnish his own transportation and gas.

Board engineer Mike Falkner provided project updates. The first update concerned installation of a new filter in the “old well” water source, something Davis said caused “a lot of brown water.” The second update concerned replacing existing six-inch water lines on County Road 145 with eight-inch water lines, something Falkner said will help address water pressure issues.

“Our opinion is, priority wise, this one may be more important in the short-term than the connection to the city, simply because the city’s not ready to hook on yet anyway,” Falkner said. “This will allow us the ability to move water around the system better.”

Falkner also reported that iron levels in the water recently tested significantly better than previous months.

Davis added that many recent water pressure issues were due to irrigation in subdivisions on Punkin Water’s system.

However, after the meeting was adjourned and questions were permitted, Punkin Water customer Max Hill raised the concern that, if the water is still discolored, water pressure is secondary.

Hill also addressed issues with timely website updates – part of the Public Service Commission’s order he said isn’t followed.

“On Thursday of last week, people started having issues with water pressure and quality. I’ve got pictures. At 7:13 Friday morning, I sent a text message to (board attorney) Larry Little and Thomas Adams of the Public Service Commission. Folks were turning on their taps and nothing came out,” Hill said. “At 10:45 a.m., there was finally a notice put on the Punkin Water website that further updates would be provided. As of this meeting, nothing has been said.”

Other residents addressed concerns about water quality and the lack of improvements following the order. One woman said she was surprised a crawfish hasn’t crawled out of her bathtub faucet.

Before the question-and-answer portion ended, Hill announced that he’d gotten a text saying his daughter’s bathwater was purple.

It was clarified that this was due to potassium permanganate, a substance used to remove iron and hydrogen sulfide from well water. According to Davis, it’s not a health hazard and will disappear soon. However, the substance has been proven to cause skin and eye irritation.