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Increased water contaminant blamed on recent rains

The Malakoff News of Malakoff, Texas

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Levels decrease, Athens consults with engineers to address matter

ATHENS—Athens water customers received letters this week warning them that a contaminant in their water exceeds the level set by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency. The contaminant is Haloacetic Acids (HAAs). This substance is a byproduct of the disinfection of drinking water. When chlorine encounters organic matter in the water

HAA5s are produced. An increase in organic matter from the torrential rains are blamed for the increase in the contaminant level.

That's a simplistic explanation. There's much more involved, including pH levels and the decomposition of lake vegetation.

The Athens utility came to about half the acceptable level last year at this time (30 ppb versus 60 ppb, the maximum level set). However, the latest markers indicate the level has shot up to 80 -90 ppb, according to the letter. One way to deal with the situation is to perform a burnout of the system, an acceptable approach to reset the levels throughout the water distribution system.

Athens Director of Development Amy Williams said the utility is consulting with engineers on the best way to move forward and reduce the risk of increased disinfection by-product formation in the future. The HAAs levels have already come down significantly, Williams said, just because the rains have stopped and there is less organic matter in the lake. However, the HAA5s levels were not something the water customer would notice.

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Original Publication Date: February 12, 2016

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