Tuesday, July 06, 2004


MTBE still fouls half of Calif. city's water

MTBE still fouls half of Calif. city's water
Half of Santa Monica's water still undrinkable after 8 years
By Timothy B. Wheeler
Sun Staff
Originally published July 4, 2004
SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Miriam Cardenas was puzzled when she first saw the strange reading in the water-quality report she got back from the laboratory. As chief water chemist for the city of Santa Monica, it was her job to see that the tap water in this sun-drenched beach community is safe to drink.

The annual test Cardenas had run for potentially harmful contaminants in the city's water came back in the fall of 1995 with the usual negative results --- except for finding traces of a new chemical, methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. Cardenas had never heard of it.

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HADLEY - Residents and business owners are upset with the state because their water is turning clothes brown.

Hadley upset by brown water
Thursday, July 01, 2004

HADLEY - Residents and business owners are upset with the state because their water is turning clothes brown.

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Hadley upset by brown water
Thursday, July 01, 2004

HADLEY - Residents and business owners are upset with the state because their water is turning clothes brown.


The state recently started having communities test for perchlorate to help the state set safety levels for the chemical. One of the town's wells had 3.2 parts per billion of the chemical, forcing the well to be shut down.

The town then had to switch to another source of water from the Callahan Wells, but those wells have iron and manganese, which turns laundry brown. The town is attempting to treat for those minerals but they can only be sequestered, not removed, said Robert Mellstrom of Dufresne-Henry, the town's water consultant. To successfully remove them would require a treatment facility, he said, something that would likely cost several million dollars.

Some in town are blaming the state Department of Environmental Protection for having the well shut down when they don't even know if the level of perchlorate is harmful.

Perchlorate "is an inorganic chemical widely used as an oxidizer in solid propellants for rockets, missiles and fireworks," according to information from the DEP Web site.

No one knows how the chemical seeped into the water.

"The DEP is regulating ahead of science," Selectmen Chairman John P. Connor said at a meeting last night that addressed town water issues.

"They're seriously affecting all our lives," said Timothy L. Neyhart, the town's building inspector. "It's affecting all our clothes. I don't think this is right that DEP can come in here and create havoc on our lives, especially since they can't tell us that 1 part per billion is a health risk."

Curt Shumway, who owns several hotels in town, is upset by what has happened and asked, "How long has Hadley been living with it?"

The DEP told him to have his sheets laundered outside of town and to bring in water for the hotel swimming pools, said Sean Welch, the general manager for the Holiday Inn Express, one of Shumway's hotels.

Mary Jane Bacon from state Sen. Stanley C. Rosenberg's office told the board that Rosenberg and John Scibak, D-South Hadley, who was also at the meeting last night, said DEP officials would meet with the town to talk about the problems. A tentative date of July 9 was set.


Lead levels high in NMSU water

By James W. Brosnan
Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency has found above-normal levels of lead in drinking water at a student-housing complex at New Mexico State University, triggering an investigation and more testing by the state and the university.

Monitoring in 2003 found lead levels as high as 73 parts per billion in 25 of 60 units tested in the Vista Del Monte complex on the south part of the Las Cruces campus. That's almost five times the level of 15 parts per billion that requires action to correct the problem. Each unit contains four apartments.

The lead levels are not believed to present an acute health risk, but chronic exposure to lead can harm fetuses and small children, said Jon Goldstein, spokesman for the New Mexico Environment Department.

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Ohio water utility notifies customers of chemical contamination

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. - An Ohio utility says its water supply is contaminated with a chemical used at a nearby DuPont plant and customers should use it at their own risk.

The Little Hocking Water Association sent notices of contamination to its customers Wednesday warning them that the water contains levels of C8 that may pose series health risks.

DuPont's Washington Works plant in West Virginia has been using C8, also referred to as ammonium perfluorooctanoate, since the 1950s as part of its manufacturing process, which includes Teflon.

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Residents oppose state-mandated higher chlorine levels in town water

By Paul MacDonald
PEPPERELL -- In the meeting held prior to last week's gathering of the Board of Public Works, several town residents last week who voiced their concerns and disappointment over the town's decision to increase chlorine levels in the water supply.
"I've lived in this town for close to 40 years -- very proud of my water," said resident Ann O'Donnell of Province Street. Pepperell water was the greatest, she said, but now, "I have to go out and buy bottled water because I can't even stand the taste of it or the smell of it," she said.

According to DPW Director Robert Lee, a recent Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) consent order requires that the town "maintain a detectable disinfectant residual throughout the distribution system." To meet that mandated requirement, additional chlorine had to be added to the supply. The effect, as noted by O'Donnell, is a more noticeable odor and taste of the chemical, particularly in those areas closest to the pumping stations.

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