Duncannon: Tests for lead show elevated in two samples

by Jim T. Ryan, originally posted on December 24, 2016


Duncannon has some answers for its water problems in recent months, but is tackling new ones related to elevated lead levels in a couple of recent water samples.

Last Friday, the borough issued a warning about the elevated lead in two samples from a 10-sample batch, and it’s spreading information on lead exposure to help residents understand the risks, borough manager Chris Courogen said.

The borough believes the overall risk to water customers is small and the problem is likely in the buildings where the elevated samples were taken.

“There’s no indication it’s lead in our water,” Courogen said. “We don’t have lead pipes, but there may be a few lead (connections). We don’t have lead like in major cities. If it was everywhere in our water, it would be in all the samples, not just two.”

The borough is taking precautions though and pushing out educational information to all water customers, including ways to reduce exposure to lead and resources for residents to have their water tested by approved laboratories.

“Any time there’s something like this, the borough is going to err on the side of caution because it’s the right thing to do by the residents,” Courogen said.

More information is available on the borough’s website, duncannonboro.org, or by calling the office at 834-4311.

Also, Duncannon officials now know what caused an additives pump to fail and reduce the chlorine used to disinfect water, Courogen said.

A boil water advisory was issued Dec. 12 and continued through Friday.

Workers found a clog in a two-inch water pipe near the pump at well two.

The clog was comprised of caustic soda particles layered over time in the pipe, Courogen said. Caustic soda is an additive that balances the acidity level of the water.

“It takes time to build up but there’s something with our system causing this,” Courogen said.

Borough residents and those in Petersburg Commons in Penn Twp. were advised to boil water and allow it to cool before consuming, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food.

Residents also can use bottled water until the boil advisory is lifted.

It’s possible a similar problem last month, resulting in a boil water advisory, was caused by the same thing, Courogen said.

Some residents online have questioned why there have been boil advisories two months in a row.

“I don’t blame people for wondering,” Courogen said. “Having a boil water advisory two months in a row isn’t normal, and it isn’t the service we want to be giving our customers.”

At least now, the borough has part of the puzzle uncovered — additives are falling out of the water and causing clogs, which are causing pumps to fail and low chlorine levels.

The borough is waiting on a full report from engineers.

It could be the type of additives, frequency of well use, or something about the water chemistry that’s causing the clogs.

Learn More