Smelly, yellow water disturbs some Farmington residents

Published: Thursday, July 11 2013 5:35 p.m. MDT

Rebecca Seamons looks at the color of the tap water at her home in Farmington on Thursday, July 11, 2013. The city water has been discolored and had an odor.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

FARMINGTON — Tyler Seamons prepared a bath for his 3-year-old son Wednesday night and was surprised to discover the water in the tub was yellow and smelled of sulfur.

“It wasn’t just kind of yellow,” he said. “It looked like someone had spilled yellow color paint in there. … You could compare it to taking a bath in diluted beer or something.”

Seamons said his Farmington home’s water supply has been worrisome for about a week. The water’s discoloration hasn’t been as apparent in shower water, but the smell has been just as repulsive, he said.

“We got in the shower and it smelled like fireworks had gone off in there. It was disgusting,” he said.

Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim said about four or five people have complained to the city since a new city water well began operation about a week ago.

Residents like Seamons who live near Farmington's City Hall, where the new well was installed, have been receiving the worst of the water since they're closest to the new water lines, he said.

“Whenever you turn on a new water system, you get sediment and the water that hasn’t yet mixed with the rest of the well,” he said.

Millheim said the new well was added to Farmington’s water system for backup purposes. In case any of the larger wells fail or present issues, the new well will then prevent a large portion of the city from losing its water supply, he said.

The newly flowing water’s discoloration and odor was not a surprise to city officials, as an engineer warned that such characteristics were normal with new water wells, Millheim said.

Seamons said he received no notification or warning from the city about what the new well would do to the water.

“Nothing,” he said. “Just all of a sudden stinky water.”

Tests by city and Division of Water Quality officials classify the water as favorable and well above safe drinking water standards, and the smell should dissipate when city water officials balance the chlorine levels appropriately, according to Millheim.

“There may be some residue smell that we still get from the well for a few more days, but we’re not anticipating long-term problems,” he said.

Seamons said he noticed an improvement to his home’s water flow Thursday, but he’s still perturbed by the situation.

“Maybe they’re getting the bugs worked out,” he said. “But you wonder when you’re washing your clothes, or you’re showering, if you’re going to get out and you’re going to stink like the water. I don’t want to walk around stinking all day.”

Seamons said his son’s hair still smelled when he got out of the bath, even though it was just washed. He and his family have especially been avoiding drinking the water, as well.

“I don’t care if it’s safe,” Seamons said. “It’s gross!”

Seamons said he wrote a letter to the Farmington mayor a few days ago.

“I said, ‘Look, if you want to get together, we can toast your new well with well water, and I’ll bring some down,’” he said. "I haven't heard back from him yet."

Millheim said he sympathizes with the public’s worries and asks for a little more patience.

“We do understand that it’s frustrating when you turn on your tap and it smells funny or it’s discolored in the tub or whatever,” he said. “We recognize that’s cause for concern. I want to assure people that we apologize for any headache or frustration that’s caused them, and we do believe it will be cleared up very momentarily.”

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

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