Residents to receive notice about haloacetic acids in city water

 Residents will receive an information sheet in their monthly water bill regarding the City of Muskogee drinking water as mandated by ODEQ.  The notice of violation indicates levels of halo acetic acids exceeded Safe Drinking Water Act standards in 2014-2015 because of inflated levels reported in the fourth quarter 2014 through third quarter 2015.  The pollutant is considered a disinfectant byproduct created by the reaction of chlorine with organic materials present in surface water. 

Assistant Public Works Director for Utilities Services George Kingston said “one of the many treatment processes employed, is the addition of chlorine,” said Kingston.   “Chlorine acts as a disinfectant in our water. The job of chlorine is to kill any bacteria that may be in the water, or water distribution lines. Unfortunately, disinfection with chlorine does come with challenges of its own, namely the formation of disinfection by-products (DBP). These DBP consist of Trihalomethanes (THM), and Halo acetic acids (HAA). While these by-products are not immediately hazardous, if levels are allowed to be elevated for many years, it can put the consumer at an increased risk for health issues, particularly the very young, the elderly and those with compromised or weakened immune systems.”

The Muskogee Water Treatment Plant provides the citizens of Muskogee, with an average of 5 billion gallons of water each year. This is enough water to fill approximately 7500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

According to Public Works Director Mike Stewart, the City has been flushing water lines regularly through a comprehensive flushing program in areas of low flow, in an attempt to keep the water fresh and flowing.  This is accomplished with the use of automatic flushers and manually flushing fire hydrants in areas of concern and low water usage areas. 

“Areas of low flow are a concern when controlling disinfection by-products,” said Stewart.  “This happens when there are large water line breaks, like the one we had in January, which usually is a consequence of an aging infrastructure, the chlorine residual within the City tends to drop off.  When this happens the water treatment plant is forced to increase the chlorine dosage to maintain a safe residual in the distribution system.  As a result, there is an increased chance of forming disinfection by-products.  The City of Muskogee’s infrastructure is more than one hundred years old and in some areas the risk of line breaks is a daily concern.” 

The City of Muskogee reported excessive levels of halo acetic acids in 2014 and 2015. The City of Muskogee Public Works Department were in and out of compliance for most of 2015, but was issued a violation notice during the fourth quarter reporting period. 

The City was proactive in their response to ensure citizens drinking water was safe to drink by immediately performing out of cycle testing of the four sites for disinfectant byproducts.  These tests were performed on April 19, 2016 and results of the tests showed the disinfection by-products (DBP) to be within acceptable limits.  

For more information about your drinking water, please contact the City of Muskogee Water Department at 918-684-6380.