News Feature | February 12, 2014

Disinfectant Byproducts Plague Memphis

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Memphis, MO has attracted government attention as a result of its struggles with disinfection byproducts. 

"An unusual spike in disinfection byproducts in the Memphis water supply has resulted in a second round of violations of the Missouri Safe Drinking Water Regulations. Customers of the municipal water supplier received notification last week of the issue," the Memphis Democrat reported

"Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, the public has the right to know what happened, what they should do, and what we are doing to correct this situation," Water Superintendent Stacy Alexander said in the report. 

How bad is it?

"The September 30, 2013 testing results for the water source showed 64.88 parts per billion (PPB) running annual average for Total Haloacetic Acids, which was slightly above the 60 PPB limit. Total Trihalomethanes were at 82.85 PPB, which exceeded the 80 PPB limit," the report said. 

Alexander explained that the problem was a holdover from a previous quarter. 

"Due to unusually high levels of organic carbons in the source water during the second quarter of 2013, we exceeded EPA standards," he said. He stated "that third quarter results, standing alone, were both below the regulated levels," the report said. 

The EPA publishes its standards for disinfection byproducts here, along with some background information. Missouri's Department of Natural Resources provided a study on the Memphis water supply.

Memphis is not the only city struggling with disinfection byproducts in recent weeks. Just ask residents in Veazie, ME. 

"Town officials have decided to hire a company to conduct independent water testing for trihalomethanes — disinfection byproducts known to be harmful in large quantities — in response to a group of residents who question the reliability of testing done by the Orono-Veazie Water District,"  the Bangor Daily News reported this week. 

The water in 10 homes will undergo testing. Orono-Veazie is already under the government microscope when it comes to disinfection byproducts. 

"The Orono-Veazie Water District exceeded the annual average 80 parts per billion limit for THMs in 2012 and is under a consent order with the state that requires it to hire a consultant, come up with a plan to address the problem and complete the necessary improvements," the report said. 

For more, check out Water Online's Drinking Water Analysis Solution Center.

Image credit: "Faucet," © 2008 Joe Shlabotnik, used under a Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

Want to publish your opinion?

Contact us to become part of our Editorial Community.