Something's lurking in the water in one Missouri river town. Residents thought they were done turning on their taps to muddy water. That's because taxpayers helped pay for a new water system. Investigative reporter Chris Hayes reveals why the water may now be worse.
The town of St. Mary recently found E. coli in the drinking water. You just paid to fix their water problem through a nearly $2 million federal grant.
When we went to get answers, an unknown woman yelled, "Get off our property now."
Chris Hayes said, "We're here to talk to the Mayor."
The woman yelled back, "The Mayor's not going to talk to you."
Mayor Carlton Wyatt appeared to disappear into his business bathroom.
An unknown man then said, "This ain't City Hall and he ain't coming up to talk to you anyway."
We want to know why a new water system, that everyone helped pay for, appears contaminated. Positive E. coli tests led to boil orders nearly the entire month of November. People like Ana Odem couldn't even bathe in the water, because she was fighting an infection from a knee surgery.
Odem said, "At the time, I had to go into St. Gen to get water from St. Gen itself to be able to take sponge baths."
She's bought bottled water from St. Genevieve for years. It's a 25 mile drive. She thought those days were over when St. Mary scrapped its failed water system and built a pipeline to St. Genevieve.
Some residents recently referred to the new water tower as the blue popsicle after water inside reportedly froze. One alderman explained the city failed to turn on the circulator and when they couldn't get the water out, that may have led to a bigger problem.
Alderman Frank Gerardot said, "Right now the contamination is within our own system, our own infrastructure. The water's coming clear from St. Gen County."
Alderman Gerardot said the new water tower may be the source of the E. coli. He doesn't know if it was ever cleaned. So now they'll clean it.
Mayor Wyatt wouldn't talk, but he followed us around town to keep tabs on us -- first on the North side of town -- then when we caught up with the head of the Water Department on the South side.
Dennis Bovey spoke on his cell phone, in front of us. He said, "They're here. They're listening to our conversation."
We interrupted Bovey's 2 p.m. game of computer solitaire. He didn't think that was a problem when he said, "So? It's my time, I do not work for the City. I'm an alderman."
Chris Hayes said, "You spent nearly $2 million and the water seems to be more contaminated."
Bovey responded, "Not in my book." He added, "Because it could've been a fluke."
Hayes followed up, "It seems like you've brought good water into a contaminated system."
Bovey said, "You call it the way you want. All I'm telling you is as far as I know we don't have E. coli anymore. We don't know where it came from we don't know what the deal is."
Since the E. coli results, repeated water tests have found coliform bacteria. Missouri DNR is giving St. Mary until the end of February to solve the problem.
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