Suwanee officials say that water from the city's system is safe, though they acknowledge that it's occasionally discolored for some residents and that efforts to manage the situation are continuing.
City Manager Marty Allen said that water is healthy and regularly tested. He said the brown color cited by some residents in the Stonecypher subdivision dates back several years to when the housing, near Suwanee Dam Road and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, first was constructed and "exercised" the city's water system.
Several residents have complained about the problem, including at a recent City Council meeting, and incidents have occurred as recently as this month. There have been no health-related problems reported because of the situation.
One resident, Debra Brown, has received visits from Mayor Dave Williams and a council member after complaining. The most recent incident of brown water coming from faucets inside her house was earlier in 2011.
Another Stonecypher resident, Linda Anglin, had an incident this month, after the city flushed hydrants in the area. The flushing is a regular procedure, Allen said, and the city has increased it in certain areas recently.
The discoloration apparently comes from naturally present manganese reacting with chlorine added to the system, city officials said. It sticks to water pipes and causes discoloration any time it is dislodged, such as during flushing or heavy use in the area. Manganese is considered essential to good health in proper amounts.
"Our water is always safe," Allen said. Most of Suwanee's 16,500 residents get their water from Gwinnett County's system. About 330 homes, including those in the Stonecypher subdivision, get theirs from the city's system, which uses ground water.
Since the Stonecypher housing was built, the city has made improvements that include a tank and a well.
City information given to Stonecypher residents say manganese levels detected ranged from "not detected" to 0.044 milligrams per liter, below the 0.05 maximum level recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.
Several Stonecypher residences were tested, as well as city equipment in the subdivision, the city said.
The city warns Stonecypher residents via a calling post when the flushing will take place; a recent session was held to "clear up some light discoloration."
Anglin and Brown said they have had clothes damaged during laundry by the brown water.
"We have contacted an expert water chemical consultant who has successfully addressed this issue in many other drinking water systems," the city told Stonecypher residents in an e-mail. "Currently, we are evaluating the options recommended. We will implement the best solution to manage the manganese (discoloration). This process will be completed as quickly as possible."
Brown praised Williams and Public Works Supervisor Scott Moretz for their attention to the matter.
"I love Suwanee," Brown said. "I don't have an axe to grind with anyone."