Norwood: Trihalomethanes in water supply

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From the Telluride Daily Planet:

Letters went out last week letting water users know that the municipal water was once again over the limit for TTHM (Total Trihalomethanes) during the first quarter of 2009. TTHM are the by-products created by the disinfectants in the water, by-products that some people believe cause problems with the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. “We have to do something to try and alleviate the by-products within our system,” said Patti Grafmyer, Norwood’s town administrator. “The board is moving forward with the chloramination, even if we don’t get the funding.” The water commission is trying to tap into the stimulus funds, the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) package passed by Congress this year, to fund the chloramination project. The board submitted its request last week.

Chloramination is a more drastic measure than the first steps taken by the commission and the public works department. They initially hoped to solve the water issues with improvements to the system made last April. Those upgrades were on the system’s front end, where water enters the system. The TOC (total organic compounds) that enter the system are what binds with the disinfectant to create the byproducts. Those upgrades successfully reduced the TOC intake, and they also alleviated another problem by-product, HAA5 (haloacetic acids), but the TTHM problem has been more persistent. Chloramination means adding chlorine and ammonia to the water, a process that should produce water that meets the standards even at the ends of the 85-mile distribution line, when the water has had time to react with the disinfectants. “Chloramine is a disinfectant produced by combining chlorine and ammonia at a weight ratio of five to one or slightly less, which produces monochloramine,” said Grafmyer. “Monochloramine is the dominant compound formed and is considered to a suitable ‘residual’ disinfectant, i.e., appropriate for maintaining effective disinfectant levels throughout the distribution system.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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