Latta water tests reveal iron levels 16X more than recommended

LATTA, SC (WBTW) – It’s been nearly a month, since News13 first introduced you to 82-year-old Dorothy Johnson. For years, she and her 88-year-old sick husband have been dealing with a steady flow of water problems.

“Give us good water so we can enjoy life in our latter days,” Johnson pleaded to city leaders in September.

She says she has to boil her home’s faucet water and buy cases of drinking water.

“What you going to do?” Johnson questions.


News13 returned to Johnson’s home to check on the current condition of her tap water. With a simple water test that can be purchased for around $30 at a local hardware store, News13 tested Johnson’s water to see exactly what she and her husband were putting into their bodies.

“The day after you televised [in September], the water looked good, and then it started changing. You can still boil it and it turns nasty,” Johnson explained.

In both of Johnson’s bathrooms, the toilet, sink and tub, are stained from the tap water that runs through the city pipes. Johnson says she was advised by DHEC to boil her water.

“We’ve been washing our hands with alcohol,” Johnson said.

The same thing is happening next door at Frank Eaddy’s home.

“It doesn’t look like it’s pure. It is yellow looking for the last, maybe 10-15 years, but when I first bought this house the water was clear. That was about 40 years ago,” he said.

Eaddy says he spends about $20 to $30 a month on cases of water. News13 also tested Eaddy’s water using the same brand of test as in the Johnson home.

In total, News13 conducted three separate water tests testing for total hardness, chlorine, alkalinity versus pH and nitrite versus nitrate on the first test. In addition, News13 tested the iron and copper levels of the water.

The test uses a scale of 0 to 5 parts per million. Johnson’s water tested at the highest level, a five, for iron. Eaddy’s water tested at a lever three for iron.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends .3 milligrams of iron per liter of water, making Johnson’s iron levels 16 times higher than the EPA recommends.

Despite the abnormally high amounts of iron, the water meets state standards. While the surplus of iron does change the color and taste of the water, high iron levels will not hurt most people.

News13 discovered this is just a symptom of a problem that could eventually affect residents outside of Latta. Friday night News13 at 6 details what is causing the issue with Latta’s water and what the city plans to do about it.

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