ST. CLOUD, Fla. — The City of St. Cloud will undertake another effort to bring clean drinking water to its citizens five years after an equipment failure sent reddish-brown resin streaming through its water pipes.
On Sunday, city workers will begin “line swabbing” seven miles of pipes in neighborhoods around Florida Turnpike Exit 240, which the city hopes will remove any remaining resin in the system.
Staff delivered bottles of water to affected homes, and residents have been notified about a boil water advisory that will be implemented.
The problem began in 2016 when city staff said a polisher at a water treatment plant stopped working.
The city spent $1.6 million to install a new polisher and $1.5 million to swab lines and use a method called “ice pigging,” involving a slushy ice mixture forced through underground pipes to scrape off any residue.
However, the remedies didn’t help everyone.
“I pray it does the job. But I don’t have faith in it, unfortunately,” Chris Ladas-Drake, who helms the local activism group “Save St. Cloud,” said. “It hasn’t worked yet.”
Ladas-Drake and people in the affected neighborhoods said they’ve spent years replacing household equipment and appliances while waiting for the city to take action, including toilets, water heaters, faucets and filters. Often, they said plumbers found an inch or more of resin caking the insides of the old equipment.
Toward the entrance to one community, a toilet sat on the side of the road, which neighbors said was the area’s latest victim.
Ladas-Drake said the latest round of cleanings was spurred by her speech to city commission members in May, when she passed around bottles of water from her taps and challenged the commissioners, who have claimed the water was safe, to drink it.
“When I brought my bottle to them, they wouldn’t drink it either,” she said, adding that no one had confidently assured her what the long-term consequences of the resin were to her health.
Work on the pipes will last through Wednesday.
“We take this seriously and are continuing our commitment and redoubling our efforts to clean any remaining resin from the pipes,” Marjorie Craig, St. Cloud Director of Environmental Utilities, said in a press release.
The release said customers who have questions or special needs should call 407-957-7344.
A phone call to ask what city leaders would do if this latest cleaning didn’t work was not returned Friday afternoon.
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