Shippensburg warns of water contaminates – again
by Jim Hook, originally posted on May 27, 2016
SHIPPENSBURG – For the second time this year the Shippensburg Water Authority has alerted people in the area of Roxbury Ridge Apartments that their drinking water had high levels of a contaminant that may cause cancer with years of exposure.
The chemicals, haloacetic acids, are created when chlorine is mixed with raw water rich in organic material. Chlorine is added to raw surface water to eliminate bacteria and viruses.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified the acids as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Long-term consumption can increase the risk of cancer. Other research suggests that exposure to the chemicals may be linked to low birth weight.
The authority on Thursday alerted 270 customers to the high levels haloacetic acids in their drinking water over the past year. About 600 people in Letterkenny, Lurgan and Southampton townships were affected.
Tests conducted by an independent lab however shows that the water quality is improving.
According to a letter from Water Foreman Louis Larson, the alert should be the last that customers receive about elevated levels of haloacetic acids. The authority has reduced the level of the acids by changing its pretreatment procedures and testing more frequently.
The notification was required because the average level of the chemical for the past year was higher than the safe drinking water standard. The letter noted an average of .066 mg per liter for the past year — .072 mg/l from the third quarter, .01 mg/l from the fourth quarter, .079 mg/l from the first quarter and .014 mg/l from the second quarter. Notification level is .060 mg/l.
“This notification does not indicate that you are presently receiving water with elevated levels of haloacetic acids,” according to Larson’s letter.
Three recent tests show contamination well within the drinking water standard. The most recent results from testing on April 13 showed a level of .0146 mg/l.
In mid-January water samples at Mongul Church, Roxbury Apartments and Lytle Farm tested high for haloacetic acids and customers were notified on Feb. 24. The authority flushed the system and the engineer was to evaluate water treatment processes, including filtration.
The authority reported on March 16 that mitigation efforts were working and that tests taken twice a month were within the limits.
Shippensburg in August had high levels of haloacetic acids in another section of the system. The incident was resolved by flushing the line.
Excessive haloacetic acids are not a contaminant requiring a boil water notice or immediate notification of customers.
“Although potentially alarming, the notification system is a valuable method of alerting water providers and customers of data trends that if unaddressed may lead to potentially harmful levels of monitored compounds,” according to the letter.