Broken Arrow water violation reported
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 7:54 AM
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BROKEN ARROW - The city's drinking water violated federal standards last year for one of two chlorine byproducts that spiked in the spring, according to data released this week.
The chemicals - created when chlorine interacts with organic matter - were elevated in one of four annual tests after the city added a routine dose of chlorine to water that was pretreated by the Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority in Pryor.
The chemicals have decreased steadily since then.
Chlorine byproducts have been found to cause cancer in animals and have been linked with kidney and bladder problems in people, but officials have said that only extremely prolonged exposure is dangerous.
Broken Arrow residents need take no special precautions, city and environmental agency officials said.
The average level of trihalomethane increased from 44.2 parts per billion in February tests to 100.3 ppb in May, while haloacetic acids rose from 30 ppb to 105.3 ppb, according to Environmental Protection Agency records of citywide tests.
The levels dropped during the third round of tests in August and decreased again during final tests Nov. 13, logging a November average of 39.32 ppb for trihalomethane and 35 ppb for haloacetic acids, a new EPA document shows.
That brought the yearly citywide average below the 80 ppb federal limit for trihalomethane and the 60 ppb limit for haloacetic acids, but a new method for determining compliance kept the city from avoiding a violation.
The method, which took effect in February, considers 12-month averages for each permanent testing site within a water system, meaning if one site has an annual violation, the whole system is in violation.
Three of eight testing sites in Broken Arrow recorded annual averages for haloacetic acids above 60 ppb during 2012, data show. The sites had averages of 64.23 ppb, 60.13 ppb and 60.40 ppb.
The city did not have a year-end violation for trihalomethane despite having one site exceeding 80 ppb as of August.
Because the levels of haloacetic acids have dropped in each round of tests since May, no sanctions are expected, officials said. An EPA spokeswoman said her agency will continue monitoring levels, noting that the city is required to test again in February.
As required, the city has notified residents of the violation, as it did after the August tests, city spokeswoman Stephanie Higgins said.
"We continuously strive to provide a high-quality water product to our residents," she said. "Once we were aware of the results, the appropriate corrective steps were taken."
The spike in May was blamed on unusually warm weather, as higher temperatures tend to increase organic matter in water.
Summer-like heat began before the Ordnance Works Authority could switch to its summer pretreatment mixture, officials said.
As a result, there was more organic matter to interact with the chlorine that was added when the water reached Broken Arrow.
Historically, chlorine byproducts in Broken Arrow's water have averaged about 40 ppb a year.
The city's contract with the Ordnance Works Authority, which provides water from the Grand River, was set to expire Dec. 31, 2011, but it has been renewed through 2013.
The city plans to begin buying some of its water this year from Tulsa. Once Broken Arrow's new, $65 million treatment plant is finished in 2014, the city plans to pull and treat most of its water directly from the Verdigris River.
Original Print Headline: BA water violation reported
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486