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The city of Summerville wants most residents to limit picking up bottled water from City Hall so pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and people with compromised immune systems can be prioritized. 

The announcement is the latest in the ongoing water crisis that has confused many city residents as multiple state, federal and local agencies have sent conflicting reports on the water quality from one fo the city's water treatment plants. 

On Monday, a water specialist told the city council that water from the Raccoon Creek treatment plant is safe to drink for most people. 

Mike McGill, president of WaterPIO, was hired by the Georgia Rural Water Association to help manage Summerville's ongoing water crisis that has put more than 10,000 customers on high alert. WaterPIO is a public relations company that specializes in communications for water and wastewater treatment companies.

McGill said the health advisory pertains to vulnerable populations: mainly women who are pregnant and nursing, infants and in some cases the elderly.

"When it comes to your cooking and everyday use, for most people, it is safe to use and consume the water," he said.

This came after the city started distributing water from a tanker for everyone in the public who wanted it. The city continued to hand out bottled water for city water customers that came to pick up bottles every other day. 

Now the city is trying to limit the amount of bottled water is giving out to the majority of people and is prioritizing those who are in more danger of the contaminated water. 

McGill said the city's water treatment plant is not the source of the contamination. Testing still has to be done in multiple locations to find the source, he said.

The health advisory involves levels of two chemicals found during water quality testing at the Raccoon Creek plant.

On Jan. 31, the city got a call from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about water quality testing from the 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 will hand out bottled water from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will not hand out bottled water on the weekends but city water customers can still fill up their own containers 24 hours a day from the tanker parked outside City Hall. 

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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