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City takes steps to find source of water odors
Pigeon Creek Estates residents have been dealing with issues since 2009
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Jim Watson has changed out his hot water heater. He's flushed the tanks with bleach. He's sent water samples off to labs for evaluation.

And he's complained to the city of Dawsonville about the sulfuric odor found in the water at his retirement estate.

"Over the years, our situation has gotten worse," he told the Dawsonville City Council Monday night. "I invite the entire council to come up to my place.

"It's not something that's a small odor to deal with... when you have to open up the doors for at least 10-15 minutes to get the smell out of there."

Watson lives in Pigeon Creek Estates off Shoal Creek Road near the Dawsonville city limits. The neighborhood's water source is a city of Dawsonville well.

City officials assure the public the water is safe to drink.

"There's no problem there. It's just that it's got a horrible smell and it won't hurt anybody," said Mayor James Grogan.

Geologist Bob Atkins is working with the city to identify what is causing the odors. He named several potential causes, including faulty equipment and a build-up of bacteria in the walls of the well.

The water samples he's taken indicate the problem appears to be coming from inside the well.

"I smelled it from the well. If we can eliminate the source, then maybe we won't need to treat the water," he said.

According to Atkins, high levels of iron and manganese, as well as hydrogen sulfide gases have been identified in the well water.

While the levels can produce heavy degrees of odors, similar to that of rotting eggs, the presence does not make the water unsafe, he said.

"The reading I've done says it's not a health issue. It's an obnoxious issue. Personally, if I had a well or a source of water, I'd want it corrected," Atkins said. "That's my personal opinion."

Resident Colleen Simrell said residents in the neighborhood have done their part by changing out hot water tanks and using bleach to eliminate the odor. Nothing has worked.

"I understand chlorine is used to help fight off the bacteria. I'm the first to admit it, it is not a detriment to your health to drink the water, but the irritants are staining our tiles...whatever is in our showers, our toilet bowls, our sinks, clothing and the smell," she said.

In a unanimous vote, the council directed City Manager David Headley to move forward with identifying what is causing the problem that, according to Simrell, dates back to at least 2009.

Watson suggested the city consider providing an alternative water source to the area until the problem is identified and handled.

"We do have a problem, and we're here to hopefully be part of the solution," he said. "But if we've got an alternative water source, we need to be looking at it. Because what we have is not working."

 

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