Better water

Reverse osmosis water filters are shown Wednesday in a hallway at Fruithurst Elementary School, the distribution point for devices made possible by a grant through Auburn University for residents of an area that has potentially cancer-causing compounds in the water. In the center is Christy Hiett, who leads the nonprofit Cleburne Cancer Concerns and is the principal at the school. The other adults are Meagan and Josh Holdbrooks with their children, Canaan, 8, and Cohen, 4.

FRUITHURST — Anticipating better-quality water in her home, Meagan Holdbrooks was all smiles when she and her family picked up a new filtration system Wednesday afternoon at Fruithurst Elementary School.

Holdbrooks’ was one of 45 families receiving a reverse osmosis water filtration system to remove contaminants from their well water, and she welcomed the change.

“I’ve been praying about it for many months and today’s my birthday and I said it was truly a gift from God just to have clean water — means a lot,” Holdbrooks said.

The filters were just one benefit residents gained from a $25,000 grant through Auburn University to help those in the Fruithurst and Muscadine areas, according to Christy Hiett, who leads a local nonprofit called Cleburne Cancer Concerns.

The purpose of Cleburne Cancer Concerns is to bring to public attention the possible causes of cancer, particularly leukemia, in and around Cleburne County and find ways to improve the health and quality of life for residents.

Hiett was busy helping distribute the filters, which were in large boxes, to the recipients.

“It’s awesome, it feels like Christmas again,” Hiett said.

Various wells have tested positive for a number of cancer-causing compounds according to Hiett including semivolatile organic compounds and heavy metals such as arsenic, barium, lead, zinc, chromium, silver and nickel.

According to Hiett, the filters will remove all contaminants except for radon, which would require more complicated machinery.

Hiett said the filters, which attach to plumbing under the kitchen sink, are just a part an effort to get residents off well water.

“There’s about 25-30 that are being connected to municipal water for free,” Hiett said.

Hiett said a $55,000 grant through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs has allowed residents in the affected areas to be connected to the municipal water source. Up to 200 feet of pipe from each resident’s water meter is included, but that person must agree to have the household’s well permanently capped off.

Hiett said she has a waiting list for another batch of filters for residents in the area.

Kristy Patterson from Muscadine was picking up a filter for her house and her father’s residence and was grateful for them.

“It means a lot and we are so proud that Ms. Hiett learned about all this and helped up out as much as she has,” Patterson said.

Patterson said that her family is on well water but uses bottled water for drinking.


​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.