Salem working on water problem

SALEM – The Salem Utilities Department has already been working on reducing the formation of chlorine by-products in the city’s drinking water to stay in compliance with state rules, one utilities official said.

Salem sells water to both Leetonia and Washingtonville and both villages talked about the problem of being out of compliance during their council meetings this week, with both looking to Salem for a solution.

Washingtonville already received a letter from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency about being over the limit for the disinfectant by-products, while Leetonia officials said they were expecting a letter soon.

Salem Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart said a lot of these letters are coming out since the regulation for monitoring Total Trihalomethanes took effect last year, limiting the maximum allowable level at 80 parts per billion or 0.080 micrograms per liter. The city received a letter in October noting that the TTHM in the water system exceeded the limit during the April through June 2013 quarterly monitoring period.

Weingart said the water is safe to drink and the city’s working on the situation. The city Utilities Commission agreed in October to have Burgess & Niple design plans to improve the flow and circulation of potable water into the Stewart Road Reservoir to reduce the formation of the chlorine by-products. Part of the plan will be to have all the drinking water flow through the Stewart Road Reservoir. The project was estimated to cost $104,000 and will be completed this year.

He said they’ll also have to decide whether to flush out the system in the dead-end areas where the water can end up sitting for longer periods.

Weingart explained that these by-products form when the chlorine used as a disinfectant to control contaminants in the water reacts with naturally-occurring organics such as humic acids from decaying leaves or grass or other vegetation. He said they don’t form very rapidly in cold water and aren’t a concern most of the year. He said they usually become a problem during warmer periods in July, August, September and October.

He also said the length of time water spends in the distribution system, sitting in tanks, can also contribute to the problem, along with the amount of water being stored. They’re required to have certain capacities for dealing with fires, but the more water being stored and not used can lead to older water.

Regarding Leetonia and Washingtonville, Weingart said “even though they’re purchasing water from us, they have to manage their own systems. There are things they can do to reduce these by-products.”

He mentioned the use of granular carbon to treat the water or aeration, which can help with the removal of the by-products.

Last March, a representative of Burgess & Niple talked to the city Utilities Commission about ways to reduce the disinfectant by-products in the Stewart Road Reservoir, including the installation of both mixing and aeration systems to help with recirculation.

For now, Weingart said the city is focusing on the flow of water into the reservoir and what can be done on the treatment side to see if that works.

The city Utilities Commission meets at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the second floor meeting room at the Utilities Department.