Longview flushing its pipes to clear nasty looking water

LONGVIEW, Wash. - It may not look like it, but the city says that brown water is safe to drink.

But residents are furious, don't buy it and don't want to put up with it anymore.

Two weeks of flushing out the water pipes is helping, but the city is up against blackish-brown sediment inside old water pipes that loosened up when the city switched water sources.

Some residents say, even if the water looks clear, it still tastes like metal.

Dawn Wiott says the water has been making her daughter sick. She took pictures of the sores and rashes from the bathwater.

Even as bad as it looks and smells, the city says there's no reason to worry.

"This (the brown water) tests safe as far as bacteriological, as far as the primary drinking water regulations," said Longview utilities manager, Jacki Masters. "There is no bacteria in that bottle (of brown water)."

But Masters said she wouldn't personally drink it.

The city didn't expect this to happen when it switched water sources earlier this year. But the new water flow rustled up the old pipes, breaking off old, nasty, rusty growth.

The city's been flushing out the pipes for a few weeks and a fresh sample Wednesday looked quite a bit clearer than what neighbors have been collecting the past few months.

Still those old nasty water pipes might be in need of repair or replacement. That's a discussion the city's going to take up at the next City Council meeting next week.

Meanwhile, the plan is to continue to flush the pipes around the clock. And an engineering firm is studying what exactly happened when the city switched from river water to groundwater. It may be something about the chemical makeup of that water that ate away at the buildup on the pipes.