DECATUR UTILITIES: Officials confident in water quality

2018-02-01 | The News Courier

Jan. 31--Within the next 30 days, more than 1 million gallons per day of water will flow from Decatur Utilities, through a 36-inch pipe under the Tennessee River and to Limestone County Water Sewer Authority.

That water will then be distributed through the LCWSA's service area for use in taps, shower heads, hose pipes and fire hydrants. The utility already purchases water from DU, but LCWSA officials say the Decatur Crossing project will ensure an abundant water supply to meet the needs of a growing county.

The head of LCWSA said this week he wants residents to know the water is safe for consumption, despite a recent report to the contrary.

"We, along with Decatur Utilities, are meeting all (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) standards," said Daryl Williamson, CEO of LCWSA. "We're making sure we hit all the matrices we must hit. From a safety concern, we're meeting all regulatory compliance."

On Friday, Warriors for Clean Water announced that people in Lawrence and Morgan counties should not be drinking tap water, citing high levels of heavy metals and perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, often found in manufactured chemicals. Ingested in high quantities, those could cause cancer or kidney disease for consumers.

Shortly after Warriors for Clean Water released its findings, Decatur Utilities and the Alabama Department of Public Health issued statements saying the water is safe to consume. A statement issued by DU said the utility's water treatment process is "multi-staged and includes screening, chemical addition, settling, filtration, and disinfection."

The statement also pointed out that DU performs more than 1 million tests in-house and at third-party independent laboratories to monitor contaminants.

"That report has consistently shown non-detectable levels of heavy metals such as lead, chromium and mercury," the statement said. "Levels of other contaminants are well below the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM)."

Williamson said he has faith in DU's testing methods. He added DU provides a consumer confidence report to each utility it sells water to.

Despite his confidence in those tests, LCWSA also tests the water it receives from DU. Williamson said LCWSA tests for microbiological contaminants, total organic compounds, disinfectant byproducts, inorganic contaminants, synthetic organic contaminants, volatile organic contaminants and heavy metals like lead and copper.

Williamson said water tests are randomly conducted at consumers' homes throughout the system. He pointed out that advanced manufacturer BOCAR, set to build a $115-million production facility in the SouthPoint Industrial Complex on Bibb Garrett Road, recently requested a water test. Water for that test was pulled from the Subway restaurant at the Greenbrier Road exit on Interstate 565.

"We try to pull from the very end of the pipe so we can get a better sampling (of potential contaminants)," he said.