Alcorn State awash in hard water ’emergency’

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Alcorn State University could soon receive $4 million from the Legislature for a new water system; the House might vote as early as Wednesday.

Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, said Tuesday that Alcorn State, an historically black college in Lorman, is facing a “major emergency” with its current water system.

Alcorn State officials said the water is safe for use and consumption, but that the current treatment system does not effectively remove hardness from water.

“The hardness of the water is damaging and shortening the life expectancy of mechanical systems. To remedy this issue, the university is requesting funds to replace the current Cation-Exchange treatment plant installed 15 years ago with a reverse osmosis membrane-type water treatment plant,” said Clara Ross Stamps, an Alcorn vice president.

Students say the hard water makes bathing unpleasant as well.

“When I get out of the shower, my skin is all — I guess from the water being so hard — is grayish looking,” Tremechante Tolliver, a senior biology and health sciences major from Woodville, told Mississippi Today.

Water hardness is defined as the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “In hard water, soap reacts with the calcium (which is relatively high in hard water) to form ‘soap scum.’ When using hard water, more soap or detergent is needed to get things clean, be it your hands, hair, or your laundry.”

Alcorn State expects construction of the new water plant to be completed in approximately 18 months.

Contributing: R.L. Nave