Press Release, Feb. 10:
In early January, the Newton County Water Resources Department notified the Georgia
Environmental Protection Division (EPD) that routine monitoring of drinking water in
distribution pipelines suggested that a regulated compound may have exceeded its
allowed level. On January 20, 2010, after tests were performed by the State laboratory,
EPD officially notified Newton County Water Resources that it was out of compliance for
what is termed disinfection by-products (DBPs).
To make raw water from local sources clean enough for drinking, the Newton County
Water Resources Department adds chlorine, a disinfectant used by water systems
worldwide. When drinking water leaves the treatment plant and enters the pipelines
leading to homes and businesses, it must contain sufficient amounts of chlorine to
preserve its quality. The challenge occurs when demands for water decrease. When
water is not moved through the lines as frequently, the chlorine can react with naturally
occurring organic materials and form disinfection byproducts (DBP).
One of the DBPs regulated by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is
Haloacetic Acid. The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Haloacetic Acid is 0.060
parts per million (ppm). The MCL for Haloacetic Acid was exceeded during the 4th
quarter of 2009 (October 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009) when quarterly monitoring
results showed a site average for Haloacetic Acid levels of 0.061 ppm. Water systems
periodically “flush” the lines to prevent this; however, during the drought, flushing
programs were reduced to conserve limited supplies. In addition, water consumption
across the County has decreased, as typically occurs during the rainy winter months.
The economic downturn has also led customers to use less water as a means to reduce
their water bill. All of this has resulted in the monitoring results that we are working
closely with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to resolve. Newton County
Water Resources is addressing this issue with additional pre-treatment at the Water
Treatment Plant. The retail water providers served by Newton County Water Resources
are addressing the issue through enhanced monitoring and flushing of targeted areas in
the distribution system. The success of these measures will be evaluated after the next
scheduled quarterly monitoring to be conducted in March 2010.
It is important to note that no changes in water use are recommended. This violation
does not pose a threat to the quality of the water supplied. EPD wants citizens to
understand that some people who drink water containing Haloacetic Acid in excess of
the maximum contaminant level (MCL) over many years experience problems with their
liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting
cancer. Again, as described above, measures are being taken to ensure a reduction in
Haloacetic Acid levels.
Newton County is committed to providing clean, safe drinking water to its citizens. If you
would like to learn more, please visit our website at www.co.newton.ga.us