Hattiesburg, Mississippi - During a press conference today, Mayor Toby Barker announced that residents will soon receive notice about two water system reporting violations on the back of their water bills.
“Recently, we were made aware that our water system violated a reporting requirement for drinking water from the Mississippi Department of Health,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “We believe transparency holds our office, directors and employees accountable, and our residents deserve to know that we made a record-keeping error. They also deserve to know that we are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The City of Hattiesburg’s water plant pulls samples to monitor the health standards of the City’s water system every month. The Mississippi Department of Health requires monthly monitoring and reporting for some samples and requires less frequent monitoring and reporting for others.Chlorine residual samples are due monthly.Lead and copper samples are due every three years.
In April 2018, the City’s water plant collected the required 50 samples for chlorine residuals, but only 49 were documented on the submitted report. Aside from this report, the City of Hattiesburg collected and reported all 50 samples for January, February, March, May, June, July, August, September, October and November of 2018. All of these samples passed the Mississippi Department of Health’s criteria for drinking water standards.
In September 2018, the City missed the due date of submitting lead and copper samples by six weeks. Thirty samples were collected in November and all 30 were below the lead and copper action levels - the measure of quality, safe drinking water. Unfortunately, these samples cannot be used to satisfy the sample requirements for that specific collection period.
“Both of these reporting violations are a byproduct of human error regarding record keeping and paperwork. Neither are in relation to the quality of our drinking water,” said Water Director Alan Howe. “Moving forward, we have requested a schedule for sample monitoring and reporting from the Mississippi Department of Health. We are adjusting our own internal office practices to make sure this does not happen again. We’ve also scheduled samples to be pulled and submitted again for lead and copper in June 2019.”
Barker added, “It’s really important that our residents know and understand that these two notices are not linked to the quality of our drinking water. Our water is safe to drink, and we were recently presented with a perfect technical score from the Mississippi Department of Health during its last annual inspection of the City’s water system in 2018.”
More information about each violation can be found on the back of water bills, which will begin being distributed the week of December 17, and on the website at hattiesburgms.com/news.