High chemical levels reported in multiple Marion County water systems

By  | 

MARION COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - High levels of haloacetic acid have been found in multiple water systems throughout Marion County.

Officials say this chemical is always present in drinking water but is a cause for public concern if the levels get too high. This chemical increases when organic debris mixes with chlorine.

"When Fairmont gets heavier rains then the water is stirred up more as it enters the plant," said Water and Street Superintendent of Mannington Ted Nice. "Then their filters take the stuff out, but you have more of an abundance of organics coming in."

Municipalities like Downs and Mannington have been affected by this acid spike.

Water supplies are tested regularly to average out their chemical levels. When levels are higher than what is generally acceptable, officials know something is wrong and must notify residents.

"The reason they don't hear about it immediately is because of the health department. You have to do a four quarter annual average. It takes a whole year to come up with your average, and this one hit so we had to do a public notification within 30 days."

Mannington's water and street superintendent says the water is still safe for residents to drink, and they shouldn't be concerned about the chemical.

"You would have to drink a liter of water everyday, seven days a week, for 70 years. And this water has to be contaminated that whole 70 years to have a one in a million chance of developing this chronic health hazard," said Nice.

Officials are trying to lower this acid level in the water, but won't know if anything has worked until they test again in September.

"We've lowered our tanks to see if the water turning over quicker will stay fresher; which seems to help. Lowering chlorine too. So right now no one is sure how to correct it."