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Marion residents asked to use bottled water for cooking, drinking amid water shortage

The Marion Baptist Church sign that says "pray for rain."
Liam Niemeyer
Marion Baptist Church held a gathering Wednesday night to pray for rain for the town.

Officials for a western Kentucky town in the midst of an ongoing critical water shortage are asking residents to use bottled water for cooking and drinking because the safety of the community’s tap water can’t be guaranteed.

Marion officials issued a boil water advisory Thursday morning because chlorine levels in the city’s water supply are dissipating faster than usual due to high summer temperatures, making it challenging to maintain the water’s safety.

The lower chlorine levels increases the chance the tape water may contain “disease-causing organisms,” according to the advisory.

Marion city administrator Adam Ledford in a release stated the ongoing water conservation efforts by the town’s about 2,800 residents are also reducing chlorine levels on the fringes of the system because of reduced water flow in the city’s pipelines.

"We continue to ask Marion residents to use the bottled water for cooking and drinking,” Ledford said. “The water boil advisory applies if you plan to use tap water for human consumption."

Residents can use the tap water if it’s boiled for three minutes but are advised to not use water from any appliance hooked up to city water lines.

According to a release from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the boil water advisory was issued after the Kentucky Division of Water checked the city system’s chlorine levels Wednesday.

In an interview with WKMS News, acting city spokesperson Danielle Duncan said the thousands of cases of bottled water being distributed to residents this week are crucial.

“There is a possibility that we could, at some point in time, lose water,” Duncan said. “We’re doing everything in our power to prevent that from happening, but, just in case it does, they need to be stocked up and ready in case it does happen.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in a press conference Thursday said the city is receiving 144,000 gallons of water a day from Crittenden-Livingston Water District. The state is also providing the city with a floating water intake if the water levels in Old City Lake – serving as the city’s current water reservoir – continue to fall.

“Our priority is to ensure everyone in the city of Marion has access to clean, safe water today and well into the future,” Beshear said. “We have made progress, and we have more plans in the works for other hookups with water sources in surrounding districts.”

The city has been under a state of emergency for weeks due to the water shortage. The crisis formed after city officials decided to drain a lake that served as the city’s main water source because of a sinkhole that developed in the lake levee. Officials feared the dam could have failed and unleashed 183 million gallons of water on the community.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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