14 July 2015
The positive news from Aqua Virginia’s annual water report can take a minute to soak in, but the message is unmistakable – the water is good at Lake Monticello.
That’s what Chuck Hertz, manager of Aqua Pennsylvania’s water quality laboratory, said is the bottom line for customers in Fluvanna, despite the technical language in the water quality report. “These water quality reports have a lot of big long language that’s mandatory,” he said, “which makes it hard to see that the bottom line is that the water’s good.”
Aqua Virginia released its 2014 annual water quality report in customers’ June water bills. Tucked into the report were several charts detailing specific contaminants, the levels acceptable by national or state standards, and the amounts detected in the Lake Monticello water supply. None of the contaminants exceeded established maximum contaminant levels, which is good news for users of the Lake Monticello water system.
The report kicked off with details on the radiological contaminants found in Lake Monticello water. Naturally occurring radiological contaminants don’t change much over time, said Hertz, so Aqua is permitted to test every six years rather than every year. The last time samples were gathered in 2010, the level of radiological contaminants in the water fell well below maximum accepted levels, and those results still hold water today.
The next section of the report applied to disinfectant byproducts. Ironically, adding substances to the water supply in an attempt to sanitize it can lead to harmful byproducts. For example, chlorine, which is added to try to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens, can react with naturally-occurring substances in groundwater such as dead leaves to create what is known as disinfection byproducts, such as haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes.
“They are small organic compounds,” said Hertz. “You’d rather that they not be in the water.” In fact, said Hertz, the Environmental Protection Agency has inferred from data collection that elevated levels of these compounds could lead to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. “But they come inadvertently and have essentially been there since people started chlorinating water 100 years ago,” he said.