H2O is OK, says utility in ad, bills

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By Jenny Hartley

The Lancaster County Water and Sewer District water treatment plant violated the amount of a contaminate in the county’s drinking water late last year.

The district is notifying residents now through advertising and on their monthly bills about a higher than normal level of trihalomethanes found in the county’s drinking water in September, said Mike Bailes, water treatment plant operator.

The contaminate was released during the treatment process. Water was taken in from the Catawba River and treated for drinking. Bailes said a pump at the plant wasn’t working properly, which caused a generator to run less efficiently. That, in turn, caused a higher than normal chlorine gas release into the water.

The amount of trihalomethanes allowed is .080 of a microgram per liter. In September, that number was .083, just over the level allowed, Bailes said.

Water is safe

Residents do not need to boil water or take other corrective action, Bailes said.

People who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess over many years may experience liver, kidney or central nervous system damage and have an increased risk of cancer.

Bailes stressed that it takes a lot of the contaminate to cause health problems.

“You’d have to drink two liters a day for 70 years,” he said.

Water is tested from four homes in Lancaster County several times a year: on Kershaw Highway, on U.S. 521 North, Camp Creek Road and Airport Crossroads. Water is also tested periodically at the water treatment plant at S.C. 5 and Riverside Road.

Water-testing results from December are not available yet, so the district cannot tell if the problem has corrected itself.

A pump and generator at the plant were replaced as part of regular maintenance.

This was the district’s first state drinking water violation in 16 years, Bailes said. The district is required by the state to notify customers about the violation.

Anyone with questions about the violation may call Bailes at 286-5949.

Contact Jenny Hartley at 283-1151 or jhartley@thelancasternews.com