Carmichaels authority on the right course

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Carmichaels Municipal Authority, beset with problems with its water-treatment system for several years, is going after a $610,000 state loan to upgrade its system in order to reduce levels of trihalomethanes in its treated water.


The authority is receiving the low-interest loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, PENNVEST, to install aerators and mixers on its two water storage tanks and to replace the backwash controls at its treatment plant.


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.


We have been sympathetic to the authority’s customers for quite a while, even suggesting that Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority take over the operation of the system. But the Carmichaels Authority began flushing hydrants and water lines, which helped 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.


The flushing, however, pushed the authority’s water “loss” up from about 5 percent to about 20 percent, and in anticipation of having to fund the improvement projects, the authority increased rates in September. It was the first time the authority adjusted rates in about 19 years. The last adjustment had included a decrease in rates.


We think it is imperative the THM levels be reduced, considering prolonged exposure to THM has been linked to cancer and other health problems. THM forms when chlorine, used by the authority as a disinfectant, combines with the organic matter in raw river water.


The authority should know how effective the improvements will be in lowering THM levels by the end of August. The contractor is required to have the equipment installed and tested on one tank by mid-August. The equipment must lower THM levels by 40 percent or the contractor has to make additional changes to meet that reduction level.


Carmichaels Municipal Authority is pushing ahead with trying to find a solution, and now appearing 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 authority is doing something right, and it should be commended for its efforts.


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