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North Babylon community worried about chlorine smell in water

A North Babylon community is starting to see improvements after weeks of what they describe as highly chlorinated and discolored tap water coming from their faucets.

Residents in the Parkdale neighborhood said they first began noticing a change in their water quality this winter, with their tap water having a chlorine smell and slight brownish tinge. By last month, they began to install filters in their homes and hesitated to drink or bathe in the water.

“When I would draw a bath for my son, it smelled like a swimming pool,” said Danielle Leacock, 39, a board member of the Parkdale Civic Association.

Leacock put a filter on the main water line going into her home, which she said “helps a little bit.” She said her water also had a deep red sediment indicative of a high iron content.

Tim Motz, spokesman for the Suffolk County Water Authority, said in a statement that the agency has “endeavored to address the issues as we’ve been made aware of them.”

Francesca Riese, 33, said her family only uses tap water for washing dishes, brushing teeth and taking baths, but even the latter use has her worried. She said several weeks ago her 1-year-old daughter’s skin became red, dry and irritated. She said her pediatrician did not express concern.

“In my mind, I know when we go into the pool the chlorine dries out your skin, and it smells like a pool in here,” she said.

The Suffolk Water Authority’s director of production control, Mike O’Connell, spoke to residents at a recent civic meeting, assuring them that the bulk of the community’s water would be pumped from the two of the neighborhood’s three pump stations that have iron removal filters. He also said the agency has begun flushing area hydrants to disperse any accumulated sediment.

As for the chlorine, O’Connell said levels were just slightly above normal but well within allowable limits. Over the past few years the agency has been upgrading and installing new controllers that automatically adjust chlorine and other treatments, he said.

“They constantly have to be calibrated, tweaked, adjusted,” he told residents. “From the complaints that some people have had in this neck of the woods, we’ve had a couple of pump stations where we’ve had to go in and work on that type of equipment to get things working better.”

Residents said they’re seeing some improvement but can still detect a strong chlorine odor at times.

“Hopefully they’ll continue to be proactive,” Riese said. “I feel they should probably do a little more investigation and testing of the water.”

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