Conditions in the city of Hamilton are improving after the city declared a state of emergency on Friday morning due to a contamination of the city's water supply.

Several schools in the city were shut down on Friday, and the City of Hamilton Water Department was cautioning residents to conserve water as it deals with an issue of contaminated water at the treatment plant, leading to concerns the city could run out of water entirely.

According to State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), the area's water treatment plant had to shut down after a large influx of silt and other sediments made its way into the plant and could not be treated. He also said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) was on site and had identified the source of infiltration.

"There was some infiltration of a lot of silt and sediment that were in the water, and bringing the water from the Buttahatchee River, and they weren't able to treat it," Gudger said. "ADEM is on-site, and they are trying to get everything handled as quickly as possible."

Gudger and other city officials told 1819 News that a dam at a local farm pond broke, leaking its contents into a creek and flowing into the Buttahatchee. After the sediment entered the plant, it had to shut down while the contaminated water was pumped out.

Hamilton Mayor Bob Page told 1819 News on Friday evening that the water plant was now receiving an inflow of clean water, which should put the plant in full swing in a matter of days, albeit with a few caveats for the community.  

"15 minutes ago, the superintendent of our water systems sent me a message that we put our first clean water back in the system," Page said. "That means that in two days, we'll be back to normal if everything runs good."

Page said his office was not notified of the sediment leak until it had already reached the treatment plant.

"There was a farm pond that was quite large, probably 50 feet tall," Page explained. "When it blew out, so much sediment spilled into the water that we could not clean that many particles out of the water to make pure water again, so we had to shut down our treatment plant until it cleared up some. Right now, it looks like we're winning, but we were so scared it was going to be a long, drawn-out process. And still, it looks like there's some sediment coming into the water, but not enough that it won't clear up enough where we can treat the remaining particles."

He continued, "We were not notified, and we didn't know there was a crisis coming until it was already there. It hit us without warning."

While the city officials are hopeful that the water plant will be operational in the coming days, residents may need further precautions.

"We're hoping that by Monday we can lift that state of emergency, but we'll still be under a 'boil water' warning," Page continued. "We lost pressure in some of our tanks, so we'll still be in a systemwide 'boil water' warning until we get the pressure built back up and we have the tanks filled with clean water."

Page also said the liable party could be held responsible for the leakage, which has had a marked economic impact on Hamilton businesses.

"We have had at least one manufacturing plant that canceled a shift, and they have not given us their calculation yet, but we will be getting numbers later to tell how much economic impact that had on us. It's going to be a notable amount, but maybe, since the weekend is involved, we'll limit it to just the one day they canceled a shift. Hopefully, by Monday, everybody will be at full operation, including our restaurants."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

 Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.