Nasty water results from stimulus-funded project - KCTV5 News

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Nasty water results from stimulus-funded project

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Some northeast Kansas residents are fed up because they don't know what's going to come out of their faucet when they turn it on.

The government handed out $3.2 million of federal stimulus money to Atchison County, KS, to improve a small water district. But what residents got was some nasty water.

"The water that was coming out of the tap was just filthy," said Julie Pennington.

She snapped some photos of the water that's been coming out of the faucets inside her home, and it's not just the water's brown color that turned her stomach.

"I compare it to smelling like pond scum," Pennington said. "I've lived in third world countries for almost four years and I haven't had water that bad. That's how bad it is."

It's happened three times since November and the last incident has her seeing red.

"Beyond livid. I had my 5-year-old granddaughter in the bathtub. This brown, filthy water started coming out. I couldn't rinse her off, it was so disgusting," Pennington said.

Pennington called the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, or KDHE. The chief of public water supply told KCTV5 that the brown water is caused by high levels of iron and magnesium. He described it as "nasty to look at and taste."

The state investigation blames the brand new wells dug in Atchison County Rural Water District No. 5.

"As they started them up, they had some problems in some areas," said Lonnie Boller, a water technician. "It's not a harmful thing."

Boller is with the Kansas Rural Water Association, a group helping District No. 5 improve water quality.

Construction of the wells, paid for with stimulus money, ended in the summer. Since then water officials say they've been trying to get to the bottom of the problems.

"We took several samples throughout the distribution systems and sent them to a laboratory for analysis and adjusted the chemicals to take care of the problem," Boller said.

The water association said after months of trial and error, they feel they finally have the right mixture to solve all the resident's dirty water woes.

The stimulus money built more than just wells for the water district – there were also 14 miles of new lines installed. According to, of the $3.2 million spent, only one job was created.

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