Trihalomethane contamination rising in East Bay drinking water

A chemical which has been linked to increased risk of cancer, trihalomethane, or THM, has been rising in East Bay drinking water for the last few years, according to a report released June 8 by the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
In addition, the EBMUD has proposed to raise its water rates by 9.25 percent beginning July 12, and another 9 percent beginning July 1, 2018 — if the rates are approved after a public hearing with the EBMUD Board of Directors on July 12, according to its website.
“(The proposal) is kind of outrageous when they are telling us the water quality is dangerous,” City Councilmember Susan Wengraf said.
“I’ve always been told our water is very safe water … if I think it’s serious I will be notifying all my constituents.” EBMUD spokesperson Jenesse Miller said, however, that THM levels are still well below the state and federal limit of 80 parts per billion, and emphasized that the water is safe to drink.
THMs are created as a result of organic matter breaking down into molecules and combining with chlorine, according to Charlotte Smith, a professor in the campus public health department.
Smith, who also serves on the expert panel of the Water Research Foundation, said although the East Bay drinking water passes safe drinking water standards, citizens can either pass the water through a carbon filter or boil the water to get rid of THMs.
In order to improve water quality, Smith suggested the district can evaluate the point of the application of chlorine and process by which they limit organic matter.
Despite the city’s conservation efforts, the increase in water rates is actually due to the city’s need to maintain and improve infrastructure, Miller said.
“You’re not just paying for the water the way you would at a supermarket.
You’re paying for reliability and safety of water.” Miller added that while 9.25 percent could alarm residents, the actual price is roughly $4.34 more per month per user.

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