It was reported last week that the Carmichaels Municipal Authority is proceeding with plans to install aeration systems on the authority’s water storage tanks to help prevent the formation of the chlorination byproduct trihalomethane.
This continues to be good news for authority customers who have had to cope during the last year or two with occasional water-boiling advisories because the authority, which serves about 1,800 customers in Carmichaels Borough and Cumberland Township, was out of compliance with federal safe water drinking standards for trihalomethane.
The authority had problems in late 2010 and early 2011, when it failed to meet safe drinking water standards for THM. However, tests for that last year and a half indicate THM levels below the maximum contamination level of 0.08 milligrams per liter.
Now, however, the authority plans to obtain permits for the project before it applies for grants to fund installation of the aeration systems, which were recommended in a study completed by the engineer as a means of preventing the formation of THMs.
THM forms when chlorine, used by the authority as a disinfectant, combines with the organic matter in raw river water. It is more likely to form when water temperatures rise and when the chlorine remains in contact with organic matter in the treated water for long periods of time.
The study also recommended installing equipment to chlorinate treated water after it leaves the storage tanks. This would allow the authority to use less chlorine at the treatment plant and still provide for adequate chlorination while reducing the time chlorine is in contact with organic matter in the water.
The authority manager reported recent tests indicate THM levels increased slightly, from 0.039 milligrams per liter to 0.045 milligrams per liter, from April to May as water temperatures in the river rose. The THM levels are still well below the maximum contamination level.
The authority is flushing hydrants and water lines, which helps reduce THM levels in the system by flushing water that has been in the lines for extended periods.
Flushing the system is a good “proactive” measure to help keep THM levels in check, especially when demand is down and it was suggested the authority keep the water levels in its storage tanks half full, as it has done in the past, to allow for faster turnover of treated water.
There had been speculation at the height of the authority’s water problem that a merger with Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority would ease the problem. Initially, we thought this might be a wise idea, but as the Carmichaels Municipal Authority pushed ahead with trying to find a solution, and now appears to have found one, we think the path the authority has taken is the right one.
We have not heard customers complaining, nor have we been apprised of any advisories to boil water.
The Carmichaels Municipal Authority is doing something right, and it should be commended for its efforts.