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Local 10 News viewer calls Christina after receiving alarming water advisory

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Local 10 News viewer Joanne Dyer received a notice from the city of Hollywood last month about the drinking water in her area.

"Of course it scared me, but I don't drink the water," Dyer said. "My cats don't even drink the water."

The advisory said that the city's water system had experienced a "sampling violation" within the past year, however it was non-threatening. It explained that starting April 1, the city added more testing in addition to its Total Coliform (TC) sampling plan required by the state.

But in the months prior, the city had not performed those additional tests and therefore "could not be sure of the quality of the water on all the city wells during that time."

In Dyer's opinion, the most alarming part of the notice was when it asked her to distribute the information to other areas that may not have received the notice, such as "people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses."

That's when Dyer Called Christina to help, and the Call Christina team reached out to the city of Hollywood for answers.

"How can the city do this?" Dyer said. "So if you're in a nursing home, you're old, feeble, they're going to give you this water?"

Raelin Storey, city of Hollywood public affairs director, said all accounts receive the notice.

"If a building has a single meter or account, the building would have received the notification, but not necessarily every single unit," Storey said in an email. "Typically, building managers distribute the information among their residents or post on a community bulletin board."

For Dyer, that is not enough.

"I think everyone should have been made aware of it, not just if you're a private homeowner," Dyer said. "I'm kind of disappointed in the city that they didn't make more of an effort to let people know."

As for the water notice, city officials tell the Call Christina team that the problem might not be the water itself, but Hollywood's procedures in monitoring it.

Storey explained that in both February and March, a single sample in the water distribution system was confirmed positive for TC, used as an indicator if something in the natural environment may have entered the potable water system.

"There are many reasons why a TC test may come out positive," Storey stated. "It could be as simple as sweat from the person taking the sample. It could be because a pet came into contact with the outside spigot from which a particular sample is taken. It could be because of windblown contaminants somehow getting into the sample just when it is taken. All of which comes from outside the potable water system. It could also be that the potable water system was actually somehow compromised from a breach in the system."

After receiving those results, Storey said within 24-hours the city tested for E. Coli and again for TC, and the results were negative. However, that was less than what the state requires.

"Since the city did not sample all the wells that were in production at the time the TC positive samples were taken, the city violated the regulatory monitoring requirements and as a result is required to issue the Tier 3 Public Notification," Storey said. "The integrity of the water distribution system was not the issue; nor was the quality of our water.  The issue was one of strictly following regulatory procedures."

The city said it has since started collecting the correct number of monthly samples.

Dyer, a resident of Hollywood since 1985, still doesn't trust it.

"I've never liked the way (Hollywood water) tastes," Dyer said. "I still won't drink the water. I don't think it's going to kill me, but I don't think it's safe."

Storey said the City Commission previously approved approximately $370 million for capital improvements to the water and sewer infrastructure over a 10-year period.

"We are currently in the seventh year of the program," Storey said. "The Department of Public Utilities has a strong commitment to the residents of Hollywood to deliver excellent water quality to its customers."

Hollywood residents can look up last year's water quality report, but those living in apartments or nursing homes, or attending schools or businesses in the area might not get notices like the one Dyer received directly.

If you're in this situation, make sure to consult your building manager to confirm these messages are being distributed.

Article written by: Sara Girard, Call Christina Team Member.

Follow Girard on Twitter @SaraYGirard