Bluff City Water Department fails to submit tests to TDEC in time, sparking concerns about water safety

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BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) A letter sent to members of an area community sparks concern about their water.

The Mayor of Bluff City said the city alerted customers of the Bluff City Water Department that the department did not meet monitoring requirements.

A letter dated February 12, 2020 said, “Our water system violated drinking water standards over the past year.”

The letter also stated the water department was late submitting required monthly reports to the state.

Bluff City Mayor Irene Wells said the violations and late reports are due to personnel changes.

The person who oversaw the water department left in January 2020, and now the city is searching for a replacement by February 23.

“The water was not bad. It’s just you have a schedule that you’re supposed to follow for these tests,” Mayor Irene Wells said.

Bluff City Mayor Irene Wells wants residents to know their water is drinkable, even after the city has failed to submit tests on time to the Tennessee Department of Conservation (TDEC).

“I’m sorry that things have worked out this way. We’ve had problems with water plants operators but I’m looking for a new ooperator right now. We have a part time one that we’re using,” Mayor Wells said.

Right now, the city has a part-time employee who is overseeing the water department. Mayor Wells said this part-time employee will be at the department until they can find a full-time employee.

“I’m sorry that we had to send this notice out, but the state has a policy on what you’re supposed to do,” Mayor Wells said.

The letter sent to residents states a test for volatile organics was never submitted to TDEC between 2017 and 2019. One sample needs to be submitted every three years.

In October 2019, a sample was not submitted for the disenfection by products testing.

The letter also states the Bluff City water department failed to report the water’s turbidity and chlorine to TDEC, in April and July of 2019.

“It wasn’t that there wasn’t enough time to do the test. It’s that, sometimes you have employees that don’t pay much attention to things,” Mayor Wells said.

Alderwoman Carol Ann Keith said the blame should fall on the mayor.

“People have already drunk it, taken a bath in it, done their dishes in it. We don’t know. That’s my concern,” Alderwoman Keith said, “Why hadn’t someone told me these things were going on. I had no idea they were going on.”

“I drink a lot of our water and we have good water,” Mayor Wells said.

Below are documents obtained by News Channel 11 from the Tennessee Department of Conservation (TDEC):

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