WMBF Investigates: What's in the water?

WMBF Investigates: What's in the water?

MULLINS, SC (WMBF) - The water that runs from one local man's faucet freezes into ice that melts into a slimy gel.

He reached out to the WMBF Investigative team with questions after the only answer he got from his water company is the water's safe to drink.

"When I go to make a glass of iced tea and in my mind I still see this slime, I can't drink it man. I can't drink it," said Thomas Hughes of Mullins.

Hughes first noticed the problem after Hurricane Matthew. He was going to buy a new refrigerator anyway, but his power went out. So, he waited until the lights were turned back on. His new fridge had an ice maker.

The refrigerator indicated that the first two or three buckets of ice needed to be dumped to clean out the system, according to Hughes. He ended up dumping the ice eight times.

"I kept seeing this slime, this gooky-looking stuff in the sink," Hughes said.

He even bought different refrigerators and different ice trays to eliminate the variables.

"I started getting the same result, so that didn't work," Hughes said.

A water filter wouldn't get rid of it either, and it wasn't just his neighborhood or just his water company, Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority. Hughes did the test on the other side of town, with someone using MarCo Rural Water. They found the same thing.

"The water company hasn't seen it, plumbers haven't seen it, DHEC hasn't seen it, EPA hasn't seen it, so … it exists," he said.

Hughes even asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency when agents were in town after Matthew, but got nothing from them either. He is worried this has been in his system for a long time.

"I didn't know if it was something caused from the storm," he said. "But it was indicated to me by the water company that this is something that I've probably been drinking all along. Well that didn't help."

His water company has been to his house to check his water out. He gave WMBF News the test forms Grand Strand Water gave him. The reports didn't mean anything to him because there's no reference for what should be in the water.

Hughes did get a couple different theories from the inspector who tested the water. Neeraj Patel, a Grand Strand Water Manager, gave WMBF the same responses.

"What's happening in his sink could very well be atmospheric bacteria that's landing on that water and creating that slurry," Patel said. "The water provided to the city of Mullins is well water, which has different characteristics than surface water. One of those characteristics is total dissolved solids. In Mullins, Marion, Nichols, Lake View or even Marion County, most of that or all of that is going to be ground water where it's naturally higher."

Patel said the water meets all standards from the Environmental Protection Agency, both required and suggested. He added the testing at Hughes' home did cost the company $400.

"They say that it's safe based on their testing, what they normally test for. This must be something outside what they normally test for. That's why I say, if you don't know what it is, then you really can't tell me that it's safe to drink," Hughes said. "My hope is that there's somebody out there that may know what this item is that can explain what is."

The WMBF Investigative team collected some of the water, and has reached out to the Coastal Carolina University chemistry department, hoping to get it tested in a way Grand Strand Water and DHEC did not.

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