Moulton to hire outside lab to test for water contaminants

Johnson

A third-party, independent testing lab will test the Moulton water supply for surplus chemicals or contaminants after growing public concern, according to city officials.

In a regular Moulton Council meeting Monday night, Water Superintendent Jay Johnson received approval to hire an independent lab to test water samples. He estimated the project to cost no more than $2,000 to $3,000.  

Johnson said he has received some concerns from local residents that city water may be responsible for bleached spots on clothing. Though the Moulton Water Department performs its own chemical testing regularly according to Alabama Department of Environmental Management regulations, Johnson said he feels it is the city’s duty to rule out any missteps.

“We do chlorine testing at the plant, and we only leave the plant with half (the amount of chlorine) the state Environmental Management allows,” Johnson said. “I contacted Rural Water, the state agency, and they’ve recommended a couple of independent labs that could come take random samples and test for all the chloramines, which would determine whether there are bleaching agents or other compounds in the water supply.” 

Johnson told council members he would have further information, including cost estimates from independent labs located in Leeds and Birmingham, to determine which chemists will be hired for the testing by the next council meeting on March 15. He said testing will likely occur periodically in the warmer months but could not say definitively when testing will begin. 

“From a public standpoint and from a safety standpoint, I want to make sure it’s not something we’re overlooking. If it is, obviously, I want to know the measures we need to take to correct the issues,” he said. “If there are no issues, I’d like to ease the public’s mind.”

In Monday’s meeting, council members also approved a vehicle policy, which will allow Moulton Police Officers living inside Lawrence County to take their patrol car home. 

Police Chief Craig Knight presented the plan to the council in a regular meeting last month, but a decision was tabled after District 2 Councilman Jason White requested clarifications be made about the policy’s rules and regulations. 

The policy prohibits officers who live outside the county jurisdiction to take home a vehicle, Knight told the council. He said the department’s two officers who live outside the county were in agreement with the plan. 

Knight also told council members the vehicles are fully covered under the city’s insurance policy as long as the vehicle is driven directly to and from the officer’s home and while it is parked at the officer’s residence. 

“Studies have shown (the city) will spend $30 to $40 extra a month on fuel for the vehicles if you have several operating outside of city limits, however, (the city) will save thousands on the wear and tear of the vehicle and the maintenance of the vehicle,” Knight said. “This policy will show more accountability from officers. It gives them more incentive to take greater care of the vehicle when it is their own; they are the only driver.”

The policy was approved 5-0. 

In other business, council members also approved the replacement and repair of a damaged culvert on Katherine Drive. 

Moulton Mayor Roger Weatherwax said the project will cost about $7,000 to hire the Lawrence County Road Department to perform the labor and about $3,000 for pipes and materials. He said the project is approved under the Rebuild Alabama Act, and will be funded through monies the city received from the statewide gas tax increase. 

All council members were present for the Monday meeting. 

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