JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Many Sellersburg Water customers say they are paying a fortune to buy bottled water because their tap water is brown with floating particles. They say this water issue is unrelated to the recent water main breaks, because the water has been brown for over a year.

Discolored water flows out of Beth Key’s faucet at her home in Jeffersonville. She is a Sellersburg Water customer.

“It can't possibly be healthy to drink brown water," Key said. "It just can't."

Reddish brown particles float around in the water before clumping together and falling to the bottom. Key moved into her home a year ago, and she said it's been a nightmare ever since. While she admits the water isn’t brown everyday, she says there are more days that it looks dirty than clean. And after just a few uses of the shower, she said dripping water hardens to sludge.

“I had never seen brown water before … third world countries, but not in the United States, not in Indiana,” she said.

Key's neighbors also shared pictures of almost black water in their toilet, sink and washing machine.

Sellersburg Water Superintendent Clark Henson says a water plant was replaced in December. Just two weeks ago, he found out it was malfunctioning.

“It was letting the iron and manganese particles... it was taking out a bunch of it, but it was letting a bunch of it go back into the system,” Henson said.

Henson said the water is safe to drink and, the water should be clear by the weekend.

After using a simple home testing kit ourselves, we found normal lead, pesticide, nitrate, nitrite and chlorine levels. However the pH level was between 8.5 ppm and 10 ppm, which is higher than the EPA standard of 6.5 ppm to 8.5 ppm. An elevated level can irritate your skin and cause upset stomachs.

“We all had a headache, stomach upset and just feeling lethargic,” Key said.

Henson said his water samples have never failed a test. When we asked him if he would drink the water, he responded after a long pause.

“I drink it all the time. I don't have it a lot, but I do drink water wherever I'm at. If it's got a brown tint to it, I'll still drink it,” Henson said.

“He says he would drink the water, but would he bathe in it? You saw the bathtub. That's scary,” Key said.

She and other customers say they want to be credited on their bills for paying for a service they can barely use. Sellersburg Water, on the other hand, says that will not be happening.

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