The Fayette County Water System violated three state testing standards for disinfectant by-products as noted on the annual drinking water quality report sent to all county water customers.
The good news is that the violations don’t pose a health risk and changes to the treatment process have brought the county back into compliance, according to Water System Director Lee Pope. The decision was made to alter the order of when chemicals are applied, which helped the numbers in question drop.
The county is also researching different coagulant chemicals that will help remove even more organic carbon matter, along with trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, the latter two of which are formed when the organic carbon from the raw water supply is treated by chlorine, Pope said.
While the county’s water has been brought back into compliance, it will remain difficult to stay that way as the water temperature warms up for the summer, Pope said. That’s why different chemicals are being evaluated to remove more organic carbon from the raw water before it is treated, he explained.
The county’s overarching goal is to get in the “single digits” even though the state’s standards are 60 parts per billion for haloacetic acids and 80 parts per billion for total trihalomethanes.
“I want to put out the best quality water possible,” Pope said. “… Not just to be in compliance but to be a good potable water.”
The organic carbon in the water results from decay of organic matter taken from the lakes and streams which the county uses as its raw water sources, according to the drinking water report.
If the chemicals can reduce the organic carbon levels, the trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids will also decline, the report noted.
Pope said the state has helped with providing quick feedback on the necessary changes to the water treatment process that have already been made to improve water quality.
The water system has been assisted in the process by consulting firm CH2M Hill, and Pope noted that some of the treatment changes were also recommended by the water plant managers themselves.
Pope said with new equipment and different chemicals to remove the organic carbon, he’s pretty sure they can stay in the water system’s current budget without the need for a rate increase.
“I don’t think we will see anything that impacts us financially,” Pope said. “I think we can do it in the current budget and just be a little more efficient with what we’re doing.”