After years of drinking rust-colored, smelly water, Purcellville residents are appealing to the state to help finance new water lines in town.

The Purcellville Town Council last week voted to apply to the state for a $213,500 community development block grant to pay for part of the cost of replacing and repairing the water lines. The remaining $213,500 needed to repair the water system would be financed through a local bond issue or borrowed outright by the town.

"We decided against applying for the entire amount from the state because these applications are evaluated on a point system," said Purcellville Mayor Ronald Masters. He said this sytem works against towns in Northern Virginia because of the area's "low unemployment rate and high per capita income. Other areas of the state might be able to show a greater need. So we wanted to let the state know we would help ourselves with local funding."

Purcellville, a Loudoun County town of 1,564 residents, draws its water from a 39 million-gallon reservoir north of town that is fed by runoff and three underground springs. In recent years Purcellville officials have met with leaders of nearby Round Hill to explore the possibility of building a joint water treatment facility.

About 20 percent of Purcellville's homes are hardest hit by the deteriorating water system. For several weeks in the spring and fall when rainfall in the area is greatest, their water becomes "almost unpalatable" because the reservoir water is not filtered and the water lines are rusting, Masters said.