Charlestown residents demand end to brown water

Charlestown residents tired of years of brown water coming from taps

CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - A dozen Charlestown residents gathered to voice their frustrations Wednesday night over the water issue that never ends.

Brown and black water flows from faucets due to a buildup in manganese in pipes that are more than 50 years old.

The residents want officials to handle the problem themselves. The city is currently trying to sell the water system to Indiana American Water Company.

That sale is caught up in court due to an appeal from Charlestown residents, who say this is no way to handle the problem.

“The clothes come out dirtier than they went in, and sometimes getting out of the shower, going to dry off, you look on the towel and there’s dirt on the towel,” said Josh Neely, who has been dealing with the water for 12 years.

Neely said he feels as if the city officials don’t care.

“This is my first time showing up to any of these meetings, because I think it’s finally gotten to a point where I realized, nobody’s listening and I don’t know if they’re going to listen to me either, but I figure I’m going to show up and see if I can make a difference,” Neely said.

“What we want to do is send a message to the mayor,” organizer David Abbott said. “We want clean water. He talks about the sidewalks and giving us new lights outside, new street signs. We want clean water.”

Abbott organized the meeting and wrote a letter to the governor because he says the city’s complaints fall on deaf ears.

“We don’t want to waste the money on things that the city doesn’t need right now,” Abbott said. “We had a water main break about a month ago. One water main break shut the whole town down. The schools had to close, businesses had to close and we went two or three days without water.”

The nearly $14 million sale to Indiana American Water Company has been put on pause by the group N.O.W. (No Outsourcing Water.)

“We know we can do it better and cheaper and faster without giving up our asset, which is worth millions of dollars, to an out-of-town company that sets up a finance program and does nothing but hire consultants to come and fix your water, which we can do,” N.O.W. President Darlene Duval said.

Duval said water bills will triple, adding that there are other charges residents may be on the hook for if the sale goes through.

Indiana American Water Company issued this statement:

“We plan to complete a more thorough evaluation of the Charlestown system while operating it after closing on the acquisition. From this, we’ll fully develop the optimal solutions for solving the issues they are experiencing. We’re committed to solving the water quality and water age issues and will be looking at a variety of options with the bulk of the investments we have committed to taking place in the first couple of years after the sale is finalized.”

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