Fred Melton has lived in the southwest corner of Mannsville for the past 18 years and only drinks bottled water. 

“Only time I use the water from the faucet is for bathing or cooking,” Melton said. 

He and several fellow residents of Mannsville share the same complaints of “milky, cloudy” water flowing from their faucets on a regular basis. Out of more than 20 residents who attended the Mannsville board of trustee meeting Monday evening, several voiced issues on the quality of both water lines and water supply.

A 50 percent reduction of Mannsville resident Tex Marsh’s October water bill was approved by city trustees. He was recently hospitalized for two days and a water line burst on his property, causing his water bill to swell to $351.24.

Another resident’s water bill escalated to more than $500 for the month because of an undetected waterline leak. Town trustees also approved a 50 percent reduction of her water bill, stipulating she must pay $60 to turn on her shut-off water again.

“It’s the way this city’s run.” Melton said. “I’ve lived here 18 years, and water gets like this quite a bit of the time.”

Willie Lowery, 67, has lived in Mannsville his entire life and has worked in the city’s water department for the past 10 years. Lowery said the city’s lack of frequent pipe cleaning is to blame, causing iron to accumulate in the city’s water supply.

Pipe cleaning, however, comes with its own consequences in Mannsville.

Melton and Lowery said whenever Mannsville unplugs fire plugs to purge sullied water, access to water is entirely shut down for anywhere from several hours to several days, and whenever the plugs are open, air from the outside enters. They claim this phenomenon makes for a higher volume in water lines, and faucets face extreme pressure shortly after fire plugs are closed and water supply is restored.

“The air is just like a hammer. I’m afraid it’ll knock my faucets out,” Lowery said. “They don’t clean it too often because of the knocking.”

Mannsville Mayor Don Colbert was straightforward in his response to milky water complaints.

“It’s just the way it’s happened for several years,” Colbert said. “If you have water leaks, it gets milky because of them. I don’t know if any town has solutions to water leaks. It’s just a thing that happens all the time.”

Colbert said an abnormal amount of water leaks in the past month have caused the water to be milky lately, despite several residents claiming to have experienced abnormal water from their faucets beyond the past month.

He said he did not know of a long-term solution for Mannsville water. Town trustee and Head of Mannsville Water Department, Dean Copeland, however, is confident the water poses no harm.

Copeland said the town works with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality once a month to test Mannsville water. Moreover, he would rather cope with milky water for up to a week then have to purge all fire plugs, then wait up to three weeks to restore city water access. 

“They will tell us whether it’s bad or it’s good,” Copeland said. “You can pour it in a clear glass, and if you give it five seconds, it’ll be clear.”

Trustee Gary Glidewell doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his fellow councilmen on the matter.

“It’s not natural,” Glidewell said. “In my opinion, it shouldn’t be that way. But that’s just my opinion.”

He said he suspects an area water well is pumping air into water lines, which causes the water to be milky. But beyond technicalities, he blames lack of cooperation among his fellow board members to address the issue.

Mannsville residents are having to pay for air that infiltrates water lines because meters detect total volume of water lines as a whole, Glidewell said. He says his fellow trustees fail to acknowledge this issue.