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The Villages
Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Wildwood residents to see 40 percent discount in bill over discolored water

Wildwood residents suffering with discolored water will receive a 40 percent discount on this month’s utility bill as the city takes steps to resolve the issue.

The City Commission voted unanimously at a special meeting Monday morning to offer the discount.

Eligible residents live in the older section of the city, roughly between the U.S. 301 overpass and State Road 44. Downtown businesses also were affected.

Iron residue in older pipes colored the water over the past several weeks after city workers connected a new pipeline, which increased the flow and shook loose deposits.

Utilities Director Mark Odell said the discolored water is safe to drink.

To address the issue, he said the new water main, which he calls the Peppertree line, has been disconnected from the older section of the system. The line runs south from Oxford and past the Peppertree Apartments.

Odell said employees also flushed 175 fire hydrants a week ago and are continuing an aggressive flushing routine, especially where complaints are received.

Money in the next fiscal year’s budget, which begins Oct. 1, also will allow the city to replace some of the older galvanized pipe, he said.

Odell said the entire system will be treated with polyphosphates, which create a film over iron deposits to keep them from coming loose.

“It’s embarrassing and we’re not going to dodge it,” said Mayor Ed Wolf. “I just think we should have anticipated the possibility of something like this happening.”

Wolf said disconnecting the new line is a “temporary fix” because it must eventually be connected to the rest of the system.

“It may be a Band-Aid until we find out what we need to do,” said City Manager Jason McHugh.

He said the flushing may be working because he received no new complaints on Monday morning.

Wolf said residents may want to flush their own pipes, which could have the same deposits, by turning on an outside hose. He suggested that the city could offer a credit for water bill increases due to flushing.

The problem became public when Lee Coffey, a resident of an older part of the city, complained about the discolored water and brought samples to a City Commission meeting last month.

Coffey said his toilet water was so yellow that it looked like he hadn’t flushed it.

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