Culkin water district officials need to do better for customers the district serves

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Residents, business owners and managers located in the Culkin water district are frustrated and fed up, and rightfully so.

Those in the district suffered through 57 boil water notices during calendar year 2015.

That means on an average of more than once a week, residents and those who operate businesses in the district have been forced to disrupt their everyday lives and drag out the pots for boiling water, or purchase water to use to cook with, wash dishes with or use when serving customers.

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That’s expensive and that’s a hassle.

Culkin officials blame an aging system of pipes and shifting and wet soil for causing water line breaks, which lead to a drop in water pressure.

For comparison’s sake, the South Central Water Association in Hinds County, which serves a similar number of customers to the Culkin system, had zero boil water notices during the same 2015 period.

We would assume a similarly sized, neighboring system would suffer aging pipes and soil shifts and settling just like Culkin officials claim. Yet, that district didn’t issue a single boil water notice during the same time period, according to the state health department.

Culkin water district manager John Gunn said the boil water notices issued by Culkin were self-imposed, meaning the state health department didn’t come in and force the district to issue a notice. Rather, district officials issued the notices themselves, based on health department guidelines recommending the notices be issued when waterline pressure drops below 20 pounds per square inch.

It does not matter to residents and business owners in the district who issued the notice. The fact remains, they can’t safely use the water flowing through their pipes.

Further, some residents complained they don’t always know when the district has issued a boil water notice.

Culkin officials said, when they issue a boil water notice, they notify The Vicksburg Post, area radio stations and TV 23, the city’s local access television channel.

Gunn said Culkin officials have investigating using the telephone system or an email system to notify customers that they need to boil their water before using it, but wouldn’t say when such a notification system would be in place.

That’s simply not good enough.

Residents and business owners in the Culkin water system have every right to expect they are paying for clean, safe water.

And, in this day of interactive web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter, to say that a system to do a faster job of notifying those in the district that drinking the water from their taps could put their health in jeopardy, is “in the future” isn’t acceptable.

Finding a way to notify water customers the moment a boil water notice has been issued, as well as finding a way to reduce the number of notices issued, should be what every Culkin employee is working toward every day.

At the very least, Culkin officials have room for improvement in how customers are served.