This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, with more information.
Chattooga County, Georgia's sole commissioner has declared a state of emergency after the city of Summerville's recent water advisory.
Commissioner Jason Winters signed the declaration late Tuesday night. It will expedite help from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and allow groups such as the American Red Cross to bring water for residents until the problem is resolved.
Earlier this week, residents of Summerville were told to fill up containers of fresh water at City Hall after the federal government issued a health advisory warning for the city's water quality.
When to get bottled water
The city of Summerville announced the schedule for when they will be able to hand out bottled water.
- Thursday until 6 p.m
- Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Bulk water is available until midnight Thursday.
Wednesday's heavy rainfall caused a water tanker carrying drinking water for city residents to partially sink into the parking lot at City Hall. The Summerville News reported city and county workers were working to get the trailer out of the asphalt and ground.
The recent downpour also forced Chattooga County and Trion city schools to close Thursday.
Last Friday, Summerville city manager Janice Galloway got a call from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the water quality testing from the city's Raccoon Creek treatment plant that showed high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid.
Those manmade chemicals are used to make carpet, clothing fabric, cookware, paper, food packaging and other materials, according to a statement from the city.
The city is insisting that the levels of both chemicals in its water have not increased, but the federal EPA standards for acceptable levels have changed.
EPA standards changed in 2016, lowering the acceptable maximum amount from 600 parts per trillion to 70. Summerville's Raccoon Creek treatment plant registered 98 parts per trillion, and the combined levels of both chemicals in the Goodwin Hill Tank were found to be 92 parts per trillion.
The quality of the drinking water has not changed, city officials said. The EPA set its new standards in May 2016 after the agency's assessment of the latest peer-reviewed science.
On Monday night, water tanks were brought into the city for residents to fill containers with fresh water for drinking.
City engineers still are assessing the situation and looking to add more filters at the affected treatment facilities. Galloway said the city will continue to have drinkable water available for customers until the problem is resolved, local radio station WZQZ reported.