Officials: County water offers ‘no danger whatsoever’

Public notices accompany monthly bills 

By Kevin Spradlin

* Haloacetic acid sample notice (PDF)
* Total trihalomethanes sample notice (PDF)

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County government officials insisted Monday the public is “in no danger whatsoever” despite the alerts that accompany this month’s water bills.

County Manager Rick Sago and Lee Butler, water plant superintendent, told The Pee Dee Post on Monday to inquiries received by the Post. During the day, multiple water customers called to spread the word about two notices some county water customers are receiving.

This image shows a portion of the sample notice some Richmond County water customers have received with their February bill.

This image shows a portion of the sample notice some Richmond County water customers have received with their February bill.

The notices tell customers that the water system had levels of haloacetic acid and total trihalomethanes. Both are byproducts from attempts to disinfection water.

“Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard,” the notice begins. “Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we are doing to correct this situation.”

Butler said the notices stem from test results taken from samples in the third quarter of 2014 — meaning, before Oct. 1.

The notices, Sago said, are “not intended to scare the public” but comply with rules and regulations established by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Division of Water Quality.

Butler said the levels for both chemicals were “slightly elevated”

The level of haloacetic acid is permitted to be 0.06. Butler said the sample tested at 0.068. The  total trihalomethanes are capped at 0.08, but the sample tested 0.084.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency weighs in on how the disinfection byproducts: “To protect drinking water from disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, water suppliers often add a disinfectant, such as chlorine, to drinking water. However, disinfection practices can be complicated because certain microbial pathogens, such as Cryptosporidium, are highly resistant to traditional disinfection practices. Also, disinfectants themselves can react with naturally-occurring materials in the water to form byproducts, which may pose health risks.”

Butler said the timing is — well, what it is. The samples are sent to a laboratory for testing and the results are sent directly to the state DENR. It can take some time, he said, for the state agency to filter down the results and any necessary action steps. In this case, the order to notify the public arrived a few days before Christmas — after the January bills already had been prepared.

Any perceived delay in notifying the public, Sago said, is “not because we’re trying to hide anything, but that’s the way the process works out.”

Disinfection byproducts

“The chlorine is key,” Butler said. “That’s kind of what raised the levels a little bit. In both cases, those are not severe issues. The only problems that come from those elevations … would have to happen over many, many years. Those are not major issues.”

Still, Butler said he took the required steps to remedy the situation. There is a regular system to flushing the lines and workers will to maintain proper water tank levels as well as lower the amount of chlorine added to the water.





water customers – some

being outside the … disinfectant byproducts.

it’s not intended to scare the public – they’re in no danger whatsoever.

notices – we send results to lab. can take quite a bit. those results go to state.

state gives us 45-60 days to public the notice.  not because we’re trying to hid anything but that’s the way the process works out.

would ahve been notified … a long time ago.

* put automated line flushers

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