The City of Washington Court House has released the 2017 Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report for 2017, which shows that the city’s drinking water met all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
All drinking water can be expected to contain some contaminants, but the EPA has set strict guidelines regarding the acceptable levels of these contaminants. The city’s drinking water contained less than the maximum contaminant level for every contaminant for which it was tested.
Reports on the quality of local drinking water must be released to the public every year, in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The report provides a summary of the past year’s water quality and includes general health information, water quality test results, and information on water sources. Copies of these reports can be found on the city website, in the city building, and at the public library.
In the city, levels for most contaminants were fairly close to their level in 2016. Nitrates, however, rose from 1.62 ppm (parts per million) in 2016 to 7.9 ppm in 2017. Although this is a sharp increase, 7.9 ppm is still below the maximum contaminant level of 10.0 ppm.
According to the report, “nitrate is a chemical used in land fertilization and Fayette County has a large agricultural industry. Nitrate levels may rise quickly for short periods of time because of rainfall or agricultural activity.” In addition, according to David Gardner, superintendent of the city’s Water Treatment plant, additional testing revealed significantly lower nitrate levels, but the highest found level must be reported.
Gardner said special precautions are taken because Paint Creek’s watershed includes a lot of farmland.
“Because we have what they would consider high risk surface water, when it rains, we let the water flush,” he said. This means that no water is pumped in from the creek while it is raining and usually not for a few days after the rain. This allows the creek to naturally flush away some of the agricultural runoff.
“About 80 percent of our water comes from Paint Creek,” said Gardner.
This water goes through a lot before it comes out of a resident’s tap. First, it is pumped into the old reservoir. From there, it runs by gravity to the new reservoir, which is located by the YMCA. From the new reservoir, it flows by gravity to the plant. As the water slowly moves along this path, a lot of contaminants settle out of it naturally. Once it reaches the plant, it goes through the final steps of the purification process. This process involves adding carbon to the water to treat tannic acid, which is what gives Paint Creek’s water its musty odor.
Then, aluminum sulfate is added to the water. Gardner said it works as a sort of “glue” that collects impurities in the water and causes them to settle to the bottom. Lime is then added to the water to reduce its hardness. The lime is then allowed to settle to the bottom of large basins. Finally, CO2 is added to the water to adjust its pH level. Gardner said the pH level of the water is important because if the water is too acidic, it will corrode the city’s pipes and if it is too basic, it will cause build-up in the pipes.
Finally, a small amount of chlorine is added to the water to kill bacteria. It is then run through filters. The water then sits for a time before being pumped around the city. Gardner said it typically takes about 209 days for a gallon of water to complete the purification process.
City Manager Joe Denen said, “I’m very happy with the work of the water plant. Consistently, they’re producing an incredibly safe product.”
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124