‘Not an emergency’
General Manager Jack Hoagland of the Idyllwild Water District issued a press release to the Town Crier on Monday, July 9, indicating that this week it is mailing its customers an “Official Notice” advising that “the District has exceeded the maximum contaminate limit (MCL) for both total trihalomethanes (TTHM) of 80 parts per billion and haloacetic acids (HAA) 60 parts per billion. The results, received June 15, 2018, showed one of the District’s sample points had a running average of 87 parts per billion TTHM and 64 parts per billion HAA.”
The notice went on to explain that “this is not an emergency” nor “an immediate risk,” and that customers do not need to use bottled water or another water supply. “However, some people who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years may experience liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. Some people who drink water containing haloacetic acids in excess of the MCL over many years have an increased risk of getting cancer.”
The notice further advises that “[i]f you have other health issues concerning the consumption of this water, you may wish to consult your doctor.”
According to the press release issued by Hoagland, “The potential health impact of TTHM and HAA is a result of long-term exposure. The analysis criteria is consuming 2 liters (about ½ gallon) of water a day for 70 years increases risk by a factor of one in a million. The analysis is not meant to minimize the impact of the exceedance or to suggest that this will not be an issue that now moves to the top of the priority list for the District, but to put into context the relative immediate risk, which is small.”
Hoagland explained that IWD adds chlorine, which is widely used throughout the country as a disinfectant, to the district’s well water. But the chlorine also reacts with natural organic material from leaves, plants and soil to form low levels of TTHM and HAA. He stated that the persistent drought and “water supply conditions” caused an increase in the natural organic material, which then resulted in increased levels of TTHM and HAA in the drinking water served “to part of our service area.” IWD Director Dave Hunt indicated to the TC that lower Pine Crest was the area most affected.
Hoagland indicated that the district is consulting engineering professionals to evaluate potential changes to the system that would reduce the TTHM and HAA levels. Changes may include the construction of a filtration system at the impacted wells to remove some of the natural organic material from the water.
“We anticipate resolving the problem within 6 to 12 months depending on the type of solution implemented. In the meantime we are minimizing the use of the impacted wells and relying more on wells that form lower levels of TTHM and HAA.”
Idyllwild Water District services about 1,650 water customers and 600 sewer customers within its district.