Monday, September 14, 2009
Help Me Howard: Orange Water
What if you turned on your faucet one night and the water was orange and filled with sediment. You would probably be stunned, but what if you had the same problem for two years? Can you force a county to provide clean, clear drinking water? One worried family is asking that question to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Zion Frallicciardi is a natural at skateboarding and should be since it's a major part of his parents life.
Toni Frallicciardi: "Well, my husband runs a skate ministry at Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale, and then we also run an international ministry called Christian Skaters."
Teach kids about skateboarding and once in awhile talk about God.
Toni Frallicciardi: "Basically, it is kind of like building a relationship, instead of pounding them with the Bible and scripture, we just let it naturally progress."
They cleanse souls at work, but are having trouble cleaning things in their own home.
Patrick Fraser: "What's the problem?"
Toni Frallicciardi: "Our water is orange."
Toni is not joking. Take a look at this picture of her youngest son sitting in the bathtub.
Toni Frallicciardi: "I took a picture before I took him out because it was so bad. I just wanted people to see how bad it was."
Orange water not once in awhile, Toni says she has been complaining to Broward County for three years over and over.
Toni Frallicciardi: "It just gets worse and worse and worse, and I'm just worried because my kids brush their teeth with it. We wash our clothes in it. They take showers in it."
Toni was first told the pipes coming into her house were the problem, so she replaced them, now the county admits the steel water line running down 14th Avenue in Pompano Beach is old and rusty.
Toni Frallicciardi: "It is our street pipes, our pipes under the street are severely rusted and that we are slated to have them redone in a year, but we've been hearing this for a couple of years now."
Meantime, this rusty, iron-filled water pours through their faucets. Look, the glass on the left is filtered, the glass on the right is not filtered. The county tests it and tells Toni it's fine, but she has her doubts.
Toni Frallicciardi: "It is eating through the paint in our bathtub, that we had done recently, so I don't think it's safe for my kids. If it's eating through paint, it can't be good for them."
And the problem is costly. The rust damaged their tub. It cost $500 to repair it. They can't drink the tap water they pay for and have to buy bottled water, but the most troubling thing, the affect the water might be having on her children.
Toni Frallicciardi: "My kids' teeth are turning yellow from the rust, also our skin is really dry. We have really dry hair and dry skin, get dandruff from the iron in there. It just totally eats all the moisture out of your skin."
Toni is deeply religious and doesn't want to get upset, but after three years of looking at water like this enough is enough.
Toni Frallicciardi: "I want it to be fixed. We are paying for that water, and I expect that we have good quality water, and it is at least consumable and not going to hurt my kids in the future."
But if you depend on a government agency for drinking water, are they required to provide clear, clean water, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "The law says that the government has to provide water that is safe for human consummation that does not harm you. However, that doesn't mean it has to be crystal clear or perfectly clean."
When I spoke to Broward County Water, they told me they plan to replace the water line on 14th Avenue in January. However, they are hoping to get a contract to do it within two months. The county used to flush the line once a month. They are now flushing it 20 times a month to get the rust out.
I was told their goal is to keep the iron level below .3 milligrams per liter. Before flushing, it's above that. After flushing, it's below it, but the county says even at the highest level, it's considered safe to drink. It just looks and may taste different. However, that doesn't make Toni feel better. She took this picture on Saturday. After five straight days of flushing, the water has gone from bright orange to yellow and still scares her.
Toni Frallicciardi: "Yeah, I just don't know where else to go now, and right now for me, it's just an issue of my kids being safe and for them to have safe water."
The county says that Toni's water is safe, but researchers say iron overload can cause liver and heart problems in people who have a disease that cannot battle excessive iron. Toni found out that news this weekend and is now terrified of her water. We will let you know what happens.
Can't find a way to filter your frustrations? Don't dirty your hands. Spout off and contact us. We'll try to wash away your trouble.