Water provider looking for solution to water quality issue

By Randy Sunderland


The Upper Surface Creek Domestic Water Users Association (USCDWUA) informed its more than 2,700 customers of a violation of drinking water requirements in a notice with this month's billing.

Users were informed that on Jan. 25, 2017, the water provider was notified by the Colorado Department of Public Health, which monitors water quality, that its treatment system had exceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for HAA5 -- Total Haloacetic Acids. These are the byproducts of treatment, said operation manager Dayton Myers. "These are from chlorine reacting with organic carbon, naturally occuring in the water and usually plant based."

The EPA website explains that haloacetic acids occur when naturally-occurring organic and inorganic materials in the water react with the disinfectants chlorine and chlorimine.

The maximum level is set at 60 parts per billion, while the average level for the USCDWUA treatment plant over the past year was 63.7 parts per billion.

The state issued two notice of violations to USCDWUA in 2017, for violating the HAA5 levels in quarterly samples taken in March and June. The users were informed of these notice of violations. In May 2017 the notice to water users explained the situation, including recent changes in water quality standards required USCDWUA to maintain higher concentrations of chlorine, which enhances HAA5 formation. To correct this the association commissioned an engineering study to develop ground water sources to augment or replace the creek water as needed.

"We are working on the problem," said Myers.

On Jan. 15 the board of directors met with a representative from Filter Tech to evaluate options for correcting the problem. Filter Tech will conduct tests beginning in March to see which option will be the most effective and economical to eliminate the problem. At this point, there is no estimate of the cost to correct the HAA5 problem.

Myers stated this should not be anything for water users to worry about at this point. The notice to customers noted: "You do not need to boil your water, use bottled water, or take other actions."

The notice did point out that some people who drink water containing haloacetic acids in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer. It further cautions, "If you have an infant, severely compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your doctor about drinking this water."

In addition to the notice, water customers found their rates had increased to a base rate of $45 per month. Myers said the increase was approved by shareholders at the annual meeting, held last December, and are not related to this problem.

Myers said if anyone has questions about their water system to call him at 856-7199, or email daytonmyers@uscdwua.com. The office is located at 17257 Meadow Drive in Cedaredge.

More information is available at their website at uscdwua.com, including notices of violation and minutes of the December 2017 annual meeting.