Friday, March 1

Riviera Beach official says tap water safe to drink despite yellow color

The sight of yellow water coming out of public taps in Riviera Beach is raising a lot of concerns.

Residents want to know when they will be able to put down the bottled water and enjoy the benefits of a new treatment plant.

Despite how it looks, officials said the water is just as clean and safe as any other city’s.

Signs up along Avenue L at Blue Heron Boulevard in Riviera Beach, advertise that a new water treatment plant for the city of Riviera Beach is coming soon.

In the empty lot, construction should’ve started two years ago in January 2022 and completed by 2025.

WPTV asked Michael Low, the executive director of the city’s utility special district, about the timeline residents could realistically express.

“I can expect the project to completed sometime in 2027, but stuff will be happening,” Low said. “That’s the final completion date, so we’re gonna start breaking ground this year.”

For residents and community activists like Mary Brabham, the changes can’t come soon enough.

WPTV met with her two years ago about the same issues and she said not much has changed, including her turning to bottled water until she sees an acceptable change in water quality.

“It’s no secret that Mrs. Brabham does not drink city water,” Brabham said. “I will not drink it. I have never drunk it. I do not cook in it. That is a known fact.”

WPTV went to other Riviera Beach residences to examine the yellow water, and Low agreed the water has a tinge to it. However, he said it meets all primary and secondary drinking water standards and that it’s healthy to drink.

Low said the yellow color comes from broken-down organic matter that makes its way past the filtering process.

“Would you feel comfortable drinking the water coming out of city taps?” WPTV reporter Chris Gilmore asked Low.

“I do every day,” Low said. “I’m not one for bottled water.”

Despite Low’s confidence, Brabham still has reservations when she sees and hears complaints from residents.

“When I hear that, and then I see the coloration of it, it puts doubt there,” Brabham said.

Riviera Beach’s current water plant is more than 60 years old.

Low said the replacement plant should cost about $200 million and use membrane filtration technology, resulting in bottled water quality coming from taps.

That sounds nice, but Brabham said she wants to see progress.

“I’m hopeful. I want to have faith, but I do not just want to see those signs,” Brabham said. “I want to see shovels in the ground.”

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