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Brookhaven Ward 3 Alderman Mary Wilson: Too many residents didn’t know about boil-water advisory

Many people in the community were not aware of the boil-water notice until five or six days into it, Ward 3 Alderman Mary Wilson said.

She voiced her concerns during the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday.

“It was not enough publicity to where it happened in the community,” she said. “There are people wondering if the aldermen and (Lincoln County) supervisors cared. We do care, but we were getting the information late ourselves. I felt like the aldermen should’ve been informed more.”

Special called meetings have been held in the past to inform board members on urgent community issues, but a meeting was not called this time, she said.

Wilson added that everyone does not use social media, read the newspaper or watch the news. Although flyers were posted, she feels that they should have been posted in more areas.

Alderman Ward 4 Shirley Estes dealt with the same issue.

“I got a lot of calls and I asked people to spread it in their neighborhoods,” she said.

However, Mayor Joe Cox thinks that the city did a great job of spreading the news. “It was on the radio, newspaper and social media,” he said. “If anybody was paying attention, they would’ve caught this.”

“We can actually work on a better procedure for this in the future,” said Ralph Augimeri of Mitchell Technical Services, which is contracted to oversee the Brookhaven Water Treatment Plant.

Augimeri said all states are more cautious since the water contamination issues in Michigan in 2014. “I understand this is new to Brookhaven, but you have to understand that the state is getting more strenuous especially since Flint, Michigan, occurred. They realize the communities can be affected by this,” he said.

Chris Xifos, superintendent of the Brookhaven Water Department, said previously that the freeze two weeks ago caused pipes to leak. Those leaks were repaired Jan. 9, but the leaks caused a loss of pressure in the water lines. The state Department of Health issued the boil-water advisory on Jan. 12 because the presence of E. coli and total coliform bacteria was found in routine samples submitted Jan. 11.

Augimeri said, too, a squirrel found in a water well Christmas Eve might have also played a major factor in the bacteria in the water.

“Once we got the squirrel out, we determined that the well needs to be rebuilt,” Augimeri said. “It moved deeper into it because of that one well.”