Friday, September 21, 2012

Public Notice, High Turbidity levels in drinking water


City of Seldovia’s Public Water System Does Not Meet Turbidity Standards

This notice is being provided as a public education and health advisory regarding the City of Seldovia’s Public Water System.  Our water system occasionally does not meet drinking water turbidity (cloudiness) standards for an unfiltered water system.    Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know about your water system’s water quality, as well as what you should do in response to this high turbidity event, and what we are doing to correct this situation.

Seldovia’s water system uses chlorine to treat the water.  We currently do not filter the water.  As a water system that does not filter the water, we are required to test the source water turbidity (cloudiness) several times each day.  Water samples taken in mid-September, 2012 were above 1.49 turbidity units, (above the standard) but are still below 5.0 NTU (maximum limit allowed). The explanation for the elevated levels is due to heavy rains. We do expect the turbidity levels to come back into acceptable range as the heavy rains cease.

Why is this notice being provided and what should I do?

This notice is being provided so that you are aware that our water system is not meeting water quality standards.  

·        This is not a boil water notice, but rather a public health advisory.  We do not know of any microbiological contamination at this time and our routine bacteria tests have shown no disease-causing organisms in the treated drinking water. 
·        People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.  

·        The federal Environmental Protection Agency provides the following information regarding elevated turbidity for surface water systems:  Turbidity has no known health effects. However, turbidity can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Turbidity may indicate the presence of disease causing organisms. These organisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches. These symptoms are not caused only by organisms in drinking water.   If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.  General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPAs Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Why does our water system have a turbidity problem and what is being done?

At this time, we believe that the problem of elevated turbidity originates at our source water; due to an unusually high amount of precipitation. We expect these levels to remain elevated until the rain slows. We also monitor for chlorine levels so that we can adjust the chlorine level as needed to help compensate for the elevated turbidity.  We test both the source water and the treated water for bacteria, and we are required to increase the overall number of bacteria tests taken each week when turbidity levels are elevated.  Although we have seen some elevation in the bacteria counts in the raw water samples, the bacteria test results from samples taken in the distribution system have continued to meet federal and state standards.  We will continue to monitor the water and keep you informed if any elevated risks become known.   In addition, the City of Seldovia is pursuing the option of installing filtration.  Filtration and chlorination will provide a double-barrier system which will help reduce public health risks associated with surface water sources. The City is now in the process of Filtration Plant Design.  In the meantime, we will reissue these notices on a regular basis to keep all water system users aware of the elevated turbidity problem and potential health risks. 

For more information, please contact Tim Dillon at (907) 234-7643, or by writing to P.O. Box B, Seldovia, Alaska 99663

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

This notice is being sent to you by the City of Seldovia, Public Water System ID #240707.

Date distributed: 9-21-12