2005-08-04 / News

Town water continues to be safe to drink, state reports

By Dotti Farrington

By Dotti Farrington

The town Water Department continues to provide safe drinking water, according to the annual report on drinking water quality accepted by state water monitor-ing officials and issued late last month by the Water Department.

The tests lists some elements in the island’s water supply that could be worrisome if they exceeded any standards, but no exceedances were found for those elements, according to the report.

“We are pleased to report that our drinking water meets federal and state requirements. This report informs you about the qual-ity water and services we deliver to you every day. Our goal is to provide you with a safe and dependable supply of drinking water,” wrote Steven Goslee, director of the town’s Department of Public Works, which includes the Water Department.

“We are committed to ensuring the quality of your water. Our water sources are North Pond and South Pond,” he added, as well as a number of drilled wells.

Goslee reported that the state Department of Health, in co-oper-ation with other state and federal agencies, has assessed potential threats to the local water supply sources. He explained that the assessment considered the inten-sity of development, the presence of businesses and facilities that use, store or generate potential contaminants, how easily contam-inants may move through the soils in the Source Water Protection Area, and the sampling history of the water.

“Our monitoring program con-tinues to assure that the water delivered to your home is safe and wholesome,” the director wrote in his report. The assessment rated the water source is at “low risk” of contamination, he said. He pointed that this rating does not mean that the water cannot become contaminated. Efforts to continue protection are conducted to assure continued water quality, he said.

Goslee explained that tests for contaminants are done in two cat-egories: for regulated elements, according to enforceable stan-dards, and for unregulated items, where only health advisory levels have been set. His report listed the most recent results for find-ings of elements detected in the island’s water sources, including ponds and wells, as well as the municipal reservoirs.

The DPW director said that “as water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring min-erals and radioactive material and can pick up substances resulting from human or animal activity. All sources of drinking water are subject to potential contamination by substances that are naturally occurring or manmade.”

Contaminants that may be present in source water, he contin-ued, include:

• Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.

• Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally occurring or result from urban storm water runoff, indus-trial or domestic wastewater dis-charges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.

• Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff, and res-idential uses.

• Organic chemical contami-nants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum produc-tion, and also come from storm water runoff, and septic systems.

• Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally occurring or the result of oil and gas pro-duction and mining activities.

Test results for the two Jamestown reservoirs showed:

• Alpha radioactive emitters from radium from erosion of nat-ural deposits, and bro-modichloromethane, chloroform and sodium from unspecified sources.

• Nitrate (nitrogen) resulting from runoff from fertilizer use, leaching from septic systems, sewage, and erosion of natural deposits in both the reservoirs and the water pipes in the distribution system.

Copper, a volative organic contaminant, resulting from use of chlorine as a water additive to control microbes wass found in the waterlines, as was haloacetic acids, a byproduct of disinfecting drinking water.

“We’re proud that your drink-ing water meets or exceeds all federal and state requirements. We have learned through our monitoring and testing that some constituents have been detected,” Goslee wrote in his report.

He continued that “all drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not neces-sarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.”

According to Goslee’s report, “A person would have to drink two liters of water every day, as recommended by health profes-sionals, at the (lowest exceedance) level for a lifetime to have a one-in-a-million chance of having the described health effect. For most people, the health benefits of drinking plenty of water outweigh any possible health risk from any contami-nants.”

Nonetheless, the report point-ed out that “some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population.” These included those compromised immune systems, those with organ transplants, those with HIV/AIDS, and some elderly and infants at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers, the report emphasized.

Goslee concluded, “We work to provide top quality water to every tap. We ask that all our cus-tomers help us protect our water sources, which are the heart of our community, our way of life and our children’s future.”

People seeking more informa-tion may call Goslee at 423-7220. For guidelines to lessen the risk of infection, call the Safe Drinking Water hot line at 800426-4791.

The complete Source Water Assessment Report is available from the Jamestown Water Department or the state Department of Health at 2227769.

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