Pascagoula Working To Remove Lead From Water

Louella Martino likes to start her day at the Pascagoula's senior citizens center. She has never worried about the water used to make her coffee, until she got this warning from the Department of Health.

"I read it right away and it scared the hell out of me," Martino says.

The notice clearly spells out health problems lead can cause for seniors citizens and children, like kidney problems and high blood pressure.

"I really don't know what to do about it. Outside of going to Walmart and buying me some bottled water," Martino says.

Other residents aren't as concerned.

Wilson Duvall says, "Me and my dog drink the water in Pascagoula. We like the new taste and look. Our only complaint is the price of the water. I don't think the lead will cause any permanent problems."

Duvall may not have anything to worry about, since the lead problem is different for every resident.

Jeff Hutchinson is in charge of Pascagoula's water system. He says the lead isn't in the city's wells, and that it is most likely coming from a home's plumbing.

"The problem lies inside the homes where you have lead based jointing and copper piping. That is the culprit," Hutchinson says.

The city is trying to combat the lead, by pumping a zinc based chemical through the water system that seals out lead.

"As it gets on the piping, it forms a coat on the piping and sticks and bonds to it. And we are adding three parts per million which is a pretty low dose," Hutchinson says.

In the meantime, the State Health Department has a few suggestions for homeowners. Buying bottled water is the easiest way to make sure you aren't getting any lead in your water, but that can be costly. They suggest letting your water run on cold for more than 15 seconds before filling your glass or any cooking pots. This flushes the lead out of the water system. Hot tap water also helps dissolve more lead into the water.

For $10, the Health Department will test your water for lead content. Any Pascagoula residents who are interested should call 938-6623.

The state is also testing more samples from the city to determine whether the chemical treatment is working to reduce lead contamination. It will take several weeks for those results to come back.