Utility Tells Residents Not to Drink Tap Water, North Alabama Deals With Drought

Jun 3, 2016

A utility in north Alabama is telling residents not to drink any tap water due to chemical contamination.

The West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority held a news conference in Decatur yesterday about potentially hazardous levels of two chemicals in tap water sourced from the Tennessee River.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued an advisory about the chemicals, and authority general manager Don Sims says the system's 10,000 customers shouldn't drink or cook with tap water since it contains them.

Officials plan to build a temporary filtering system as soon as possible, but a permanent filter won't be operational until fall.

Tests have found perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate in the system's water. The authority filed a federal lawsuit last year blaming the contamination on companies including 3M, but the corporation says there's no proof of any harm.

Half of Alabama is going through a drought. Everywhere along and north of Interstate 20/59 is experiencing a dry spell. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the details.

The sound of rain is a luxury for many residents across the top half of Alabama. More than 1.1 million Alabamians are affected in the current drought.

Brian Fuchs is a climatologist with the national drought mitigation center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He says the lack of severe weather in the region is a double-edged sword…

“So we haven’t seen the wide tornado outbreaks or anything like that, but alongside that, much of the precipitation we get this time of year is associated with convection, which is those thunderstorms that typically go through the region.”

Forecasters are expecting some relief as showers and storms are expected in the top half of the state over the next few days.

Professionals at the University of Alabama’s Digital Media Center just received a national award, and two students will soon get plaques of their own.

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics named UA the winner of its Technology Leadership Award. Justin Brandt leads Crimson Tide Productions. He says the award is a testament to the hard work of his team.

“Well, I think we always have a quality threshold that’s pretty high. I think the athletics fields are very… just the fields of athletics and technology is always growing. We believe it’s really just our mission to complement what the University’s mission statement, and as well as the athletics department, which is really just to prepare people for the future.”

The Alabama Associated Press also named two student interns in the APR newsroom as finalists in the very first Alabama AP college journalism awards. Josh Hollis’ entry is a feature called “Escape the Room.” Sarah Sherrill is a finalist for her story “Bloody Sunday.”