High levels of contaminants found in Watertown drinking water for third time this year

File photo: Steve Johnson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Celia ClarkeHigh levels of contaminants found in Watertown drinking water for third time this year

The City of Watertown notified residents last week that 2 contaminants were found at federal levels above acceptable at the city’s water treatment plant. These are by-products of the disinfection process.

The city has been under an Environmental Protection Agency order for several years over a persistent problem with high levels of two compounds in its drinking water – total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids (HAA5) .

City officials said the situation was not an emergency and residents should do nothing. The EPA says drinking chlorinated water for 20 to 30 years with contaminant levels above federal limits is linked to higher rates of certain cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and lower birth weight.

However, the Environmental Working Group, which monitors tap water quality across the country, says federal tap water contaminant levels haven’t been updated in nearly 20 years.

Compounds are formed by the interaction between chemicals that control microbial content in drinking water and organic or inorganic materials like tree leaves or algae on surface waters.

And the city’s water comes from the Black River.

This is the third time this year that water customers have received postcards about high contaminant levels. The city is required to send them whenever levels exceed acceptable EPA standards.

The city manager says they’ve started a $3 million project to fix the problems. The solutions will also improve Fort Drum water that comes from Watertown. The military base dilutes the water before using it.

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