News Feature | April 27, 2017

Despite Efforts For Compliance, Lancaster Notifies Residents Of Drinking Water Violation

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

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After sending out a public notice earlier this year to almost 40,000 customers who drink water from the Susquehanna River about a water violation, the city of Lancaster, PA, has sent a follow up notice regarding the violation.

According to Lancaster Online, the drinking water tested high for haloaetic acids (HAA), which form when disinfection chlorine combines with organic matter.

Charlotte Katzenmoyer, the city director of public works, told Lancaster Online in January that, “Water is tested on a quarterly basis at eight locations in the city's water system. Results from the fourth quarter of 2016 showed that samples taken at the Turkey Hill in Willow Street tested high for HAA, or haloaetic acids.”

Per subsequent reporting from Lancaster Online, Katzenmoyer said that Lancaster corrected the issue when it had first started and has been within safety standards since then.

Lancaster had to flush its water system and adjust chlorine levels in order to address the issue. Katzenmoyer added that despite the violation, there has been no threat to the public’s health.

The U.S. EPA’s “regulatory standard uses an average of readings from the past 12 months.”  Katzenmoyer said that once a violation occurs it can be challenging to bring the average back down.

Because of this, Lancaster was considered to still be out of compliance and had to send out the follow-up notification. Katzenmoyer said that it takes lasting exposure to high levels of HAA before there could be any kind of health concern.

Only a small section of Lancaster’s water system has been affected, but sending out notices to those customers would be a challenge.

This is not the first time that this type of water violation has happened. Earlier this year, under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the EPA, the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) had to pay $1.6 million and install a water treatment system for Clean Water Act violations at its service center in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Environmental Leader reported that under the settlement, Pepco will also “implement a number of measures to reduce metals in stormwater entering into its drainage system.”

Pepco also planned to install an in-pipe treatment system “to further treat the stormwater, which discharges into the Anacostia River and agreed to perform a mitigation project to eliminate stormwater discharges from another outfall at the facility, and will pay an additional stipulated penalty of $500,000 if it fails to put the project into operation.”

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Papers, February 2008" Jason Truscott © 2008 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/