Dec 28, 2000

Sewage Line Feeds Into Water Line

Residents of about 60 homes drank and bathed in water contaminated by sewage for almost three months because city workers mistakenly connected a sewer line to an underground water pipe.

City officials say health risks were minimal because enough chlorine is put in the water supply to kill most bacteria. But residents of this central Louisiana city are disgusted and angry.

``I get physically ill when I think that I have been bathing, drinking and washing my clothes and dishes in sewage water,'' Tammy Campbell said.

The filters on Campbell's washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator ice-maker became clogged with a white stringy substance, which she later learned was used toilet paper.

The water heaters of other residents filled up with what they originally thought was dirt - but turned out to be excrement.

Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields acknowledged Tuesday that city workers made a mistake in March when they went to a subdivision to fix a burst main, and inadvertently connected the sewer line to the water pipe.

The problem has since been fixed, he said.

That doesn't ease Donna Speir's worries. She's pregnant, scheduled to give birth in about two weeks and worries that her unborn baby may have been harmed.

Fields said an upcoming audit of the city public works department could lead to personnel changes.

``We will have to look at the way that we do business in the Public Works Department,'' he said. ``The health and well-being of our citizens comes first.''

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