News10NBC Investigates: Small village, big water problem

Nunda Water

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NUNDA, N.Y. — Residents of the small village of Nunda in Livingston County are struggling with a significant water quality problem, forcing many to seek alternative water sources for basic needs. The issue, which has been known for a few years, varies from day to day but often results in unappealing water.

On good days, the water appears clear at first, but sediment settles at the bottom of containers after a short period. However, on bad days, according to village resident Tammy Denochick, “the water turns nasty brown, it stinks, you can’t cook with it, you can’t drink it, you can’t shower.” The unpleasant condition of the water has prompted comparisons to “sewer water” and “something you would get out of a pond.”

The Village of Nunda has attempted to address resident frustrations by offering a small discount — “2% that saved us a whole $3 and something off the bill,” Denochick remarked with a laugh.

The mayor, in the latest newsletter, announced plans to implement a new pre-treatment and aerating process at the village reservoir to improve the situation, in coordination with the Livingston County Health Department.

Mark Grove, Director of Environmental Health at the Livingston County Health Department, noted the discrepancy between the quality of water leaving the plant and what reaches the homes, suggesting the issue lies within the pipeline system. The frequent need to flush the system, initially thought of as a solution, may exacerbate the problem by stirring up the water more.

Despite the alarming appearance of the water, there’s no boil water advisory because the issues are considered aesthetic rather than a health hazard. “I wouldn’t drink it either but at the same time, our understanding is it’s not actually a hazard,” Grove said. This offers little consolation to residents who are unable to use their tap water for daily needs.

As officials and the health department meet to come up with a plan to address the water quality issue, residents like Tammy Denochick eagerly await a permanent solution. In the meantime, they’re burdened with the additional cost of buying water separately, while they’re still expected to pay their regular water bills on time.

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