GILLESPIE, Ill. – Macoupin County residents in the community of Gillespie, Illinois said the water has a strange brownish color. The residents said the water got worse over the fourth of July holiday, and they’re still dealing with it Tuesday.
Resident Michelle Dunaway said she noticed her water bill increase but she cannot use it.
“My water bill is between $130 and $150 a month just for water I can’t use,” said Dunaway. “I have to go to the grocery store and buy water to cook with for my children to drink. It’s not safe. It stains clothes, if I do any light clothes, I have to go to the neighboring town that has a different water supply just to wash clothes.”
Residents reached out to FOX 2’s Elliott Davis about the water problem. They showed him a bucket of brownish-colored water that they said came out of the faucet Tuesday morning.
FOX 2 contacted Mayor John Hicks and Water Department supervisor Dave Pickett, and they said the problem was caused by a defective water analyzer that tells operators what is in the water.
The mayor said a human error made matters worse.
“We thought we had a second one. Now the second one hadn’t been replaced like it should have been,” said Hicks. “That was not Dave’s fault, that was a prior operator.”
The mayor said they faced the option of just shutting down the plant while they looked for replacement equipment or keeping the water flowing. They decided to keep the water on.
One resident Melinda Barber said she did not agree with the mayor and the water department’s decision.
“My first thought was, how do you not notify the residents that you’re even unable to analyze the water,” said Barber. “At this point, they didn’t put a boil order out.”
The mayor said they are making progress. He and Hicks said the water is clear after it’s been processed in the plant. They said the water is still discolored in parts of the area they service. They supply water to Gillespie and about six surrounding Macoupin County communities with about 10,000 people.
They were working to flush the lines all throughout their system. The mayor told Elliott he does not know how long it will take for the water to clear up.
“No, I can’t give you a timeline on it,” he said.
Dunaway said she want the problem to be solved.
”I clearly would not drink that water. I wouldn’t drink it,” said Dunaway. “I don’t like bathing my children in it, and their answer is to put peroxide in the water to get it clear. I’ve lived in this house almost 17 years, and this is horrible. It’s horrible.”