No red flags in water report

PARKERSBURG – No contaminant violations were recorded in the city’s water supply for 2013, while a monitoring violation was the result of a scheduling error and did not cause water to go untested, Parkersburg Utility Board Manager Eric Bennett Tuesday said.

Information on water quality and the monitoring mistake are included in the board’s Annual Drinking Water Quality Report mailed to residents. It outlines chemicals that were detected in the utility’s water supply, which serves approximately16,200 customers in and around Parkersburg.

“We’re staying within the limits we’re supposed to,” Bennett said Tuesday. “There (weren’t) any spikes in anything.”

Nitrate, fluoride, trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids and chlorine were all detected in the water in 2013, which Bennett said is not unusual. Chlorine is used as a disinfectant while trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids are byproducts of the disinfecting process.

Fluoride is added to water to promote strong teeth, and can also get into water via erosion of natural mineral deposits and discharges from fertilizer. Nitrates come from natural deposits, runoff from fertilizer use and leaching from septic tanks and sewage.

None of those substances reached the maximum contaminant level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The sodium level in drinking water treated by the utility board tested at 30 milligrams per liter and any level above 20 mg/L is considered excessive by the EPA. Bennett said the PUB’s water has had a high sodium level for as long as he can remember.

“We’ve always had higher sodium content than recommended,” he said. “For the healthy person, it’s not an issue.”

The report lists natural deposits as the main source of sodium, although some treatment chemicals can also increase the level. It’s recommended that people on sodium-free or low-sodium diets seek a physician’s advice about drinking the water.

Just six substances, plus turbidity, a measure of cloudiness of water, are listed in the water report. The water is tested for many more substances, Bennett said, but in most cases, if they aren’t listed, they weren’t detected.

Although not required to, the PUB does test for the presence of C8, a chemical used at the nearby DuPont Washington Works Plant and linked to a number of health conditions including testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease and medically diagnosed high cholesterol. A health advisory established by the EPA sets the acceptable amount of the chemical in water at no more than 0.4 parts per billion.

A test in August revealed the presence of C8 at 0.039 parts per billion, Bennett said.

C8 is not included in the report because it is not a regulated contaminant, he said.

The report includes a section saying the board “did not monitor or test as required and therefore cannot be sure of the quality of our drinking water” from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

Bennett said PUB workers were advised by West Virginia Bureau for Public Health employees to conduct tests for trihalomethanes on Oct. 29, then were told the tests had to be done within the month of November. Samples were collected again and tests showed levels well below those requiring action.

“We strongly requested they rescind their violation since the sampling was done,” Bennett said, but the request was not granted.