Unhealthy Public Drinking Water Linked to Bromide Pollution; Frack Wastewater Suspected

by Dee Fulton on April 10, 2011

One problem led to another at the Carmichaels (PA) Municipal Authority.  First the amount of chlorine used to disinfect the water drawn from the Monongahela River was reduced to lower the level of an unhealthy chlorination byproduct. Then algae and other organic matter began showing up in the filtered water delivered to customers.  On Friday evening the authority issued a boil water advisory urging consumers to protect themselves against potential infection from parasitic microorgansims.

Lloyd Richard, plant manager, stated that he believed that problem developed after the plant reduced the amount of chlorine in order to bring levels of trihalomethanes (TTHM) in the drinking water down to the limit set by federal standard.  TTHMs are carcinogenic byproducts of chlorine treatment of water containing bromides and organic matter. Last month the authority sent notices to 1800 customers in Carmichaels Borough and Cumberland Township  advising them that the TTHM level exceeded the federal standard.

Don Bailey, authority president, said that he suspects that the increase in bromide is due to gas drilling waste water being run through the sewage treatment plants.  ”What upsets me is DEP knows what’s causing this yet they’re letting drillers dump that water into wastewater plants that don’t test it before they dump it into the river,” Bailey said.  ”This is not caused by our plant.  It’s caused by DEP not regulating what they are dumping into the river.”

DEP spokesperson Katy Gresh said, however, no permitted facilities discharging oil and gas wastewater are located upstream of the Carmichaels authority’s uptake.

Full Observer-Reporter story here.

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