I had some concerns about a potential contamination within the DeKalb—Jackson Water Supply District brought to my attention this week, so I did a little digging. I got in touch with Donna Bolton, who is currently the interim manager, and she was a tremendous help.
Donna assured me, and wanted to assure all customers that an alternate water source is not necessary.
Donna said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management conducts routine water tests. She said a test was conducted back in May revealed some above-standard Haloacetic acids in the water supply at 10887 County Road 88 in Pisgah.
Donna said by the time the testing was complete and the numbers were compared to tests from previous years, the customer letter was sent in August. She said no other letters concerning drinking water standards have been sent out; therefore, there is no need for concern.
“We haven’t sent anything else out,” she said. “Because of the THM and the HAA5, which hit a lot of water supply systems during the summer months, w will probably be sending another letter out, but that has noting to do with the drinking quality of the water. It is just a regulatory number that we have to monitor.”
I did a little research and THM stands for Trihalomethanes, which are a group of four chemicals that form with other disinfection byproducts whenever chlorine or other disinfectants react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic mater in the water. Since chlorine is used to control those microbial contaminants, chlorine is necessary. Donna reiterated this.
“You want you want your water chlorinated,” she said. “That is what kills those microorganisms that make people sick. Sometimes, if you don’t allow that [chlorine] time to settle, it gets out in the system and it sits there for so long.”
Donna said the testing is done at the dead end sites. She said samples are pulled from the slush valves at the end of sits of each supply location. She said by the time the chlorine gets down to the end, it is going to have time to sit and develop an irregular number, which is where the 0.061 level of HAA5 (the maximum contaminant level for HAA5 is .060) in Pisgah came from in May.
“The only letter we have sent out was back in August, [after the May testing] and that site only had four or five customers,” she said. “Because it has to be on all the customers’ bills, we have to send it out to everyone.”
Donna said ADEM pulled numbers again in August, and if they find anything, then it will probably be the end of Sept. or Oct. before ADEM would send it to DeKalb-Jackson Water Supply District personnel. She said there is no need for panic when these letters are received. She said in emergency situations, customers are notified right away.
“By the time we would get the letter, it would be almost starting another quarter and about time to pull tests again,” she said. “If it was anything like an emergency or an alert, then ADEM would notify us immediately.”
Kayla Beaty is the Managing Editor of the Times-Journal. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org