FESTUS, Mo. – Neighbors in Edgewood and St. Mary’s, along with other parts of Festus, have been dealing with yellow, mucky water for some time. Officials say the cause is an old, outdated system that can’t support the city. Now, the city is working on a huge expansion and reimbursing residents for their water bills.
Running water in areas of Festus, hasn’t been a pretty sight. The site of yellow, darkened water filling tubs and sinks has been a recurring issue over the last few years. It’s only gotten worse.
“I maybe give her a bath once a week, if anything. I wipe her down with baby wipes because it’s just very concerning,” said mother Brittany Kebler, who’s scared to bathe her two-month-old and other two children.
Kebler’s fears are shared among the many residents of the Edgewood community where she lives.
“They say the water’s free of bacteria and E. coli, but it’s not free of rust or metal,” said Nathan Fisher, Kebler’s neighbor.
The last water system report for the city of Festus was released in 2021. While officials say water reports aren’t normally that dated, the last report didn’t even mention iron oxide as a potential contaminant, which plagued the city’s water system for some time.
City officials tell FOX 2 that the water pipes are more than 50 years old. City leaders don’t even want to drink the water.
“I wouldn’t drink it. You wouldn’t drink it,” said City Administrator Greg Camp.
According to Camp, when the Mississippi River level is low, the system has its worst backups.
But those who have no choice to drink the water have questions.
“What am I drinking?” Fisher said.
The problem is the lack of water output over the past few years. The city has grown to 12,000 residents. The system the city uses under the Jefferson County Water Authority is no longer able to properly support the populace.
“It’s ruined our washer, our dryer, dishwashers, fridges,” Fisher said.
Fisher claims to have spent $10,000 trying to fix the damage caused by the dirty water. He displayed his dirty filtration system for a FOX 2 News crew. It’s only three weeks old.
“This should last about six months,” he said.
After being contacted by FOX 2, Festus officials are offering a glimpse of relief.
“The city declared that any of the residents that are being affected by this current episode, we’ll give them a water bill credit,” Camp said. “All they need to do is call Public Works.”
Jefferson County is also installing a new collector well, which will double the amount of water the current system produces.