An elevated level of a potentially dangerous substance in the village’s drinking water has some residents concerned. But officials say residents’ health is not threatened, and that the problem reflects more stringent state standards governing water supplies.
An elevated level of a potentially dangerous substance in the village’s drinking water has some residents concerned.
Village officials say residents’ health is not threatened, and that the problem reflects more stringent state standards governing water supplies.
The problem: A water sample taken in February brought the past year’s quarterly average of haloacetic acid contamination in the Dolgeville drinking supply to a level that exceeds the state’s maximum level.
The risk: Some studies show long-term exposure to haloacetic acids is associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer, but the exact connection is not understood.
The cause: Chlorine used to kill bacteria and viruses in drinking water can interact with organic material in the water – such as leaves – to create haloacetic acids, the state Department of Health said.
The response: Village officials said they will send out information letters to residents after receiving confirmation of some information from the state.
Mayor Bruce Lyon said there isn’t anything drastically wrong with the water.
“There’s nothing that anybody has to worry about,” he said. “Nobody’s going to get sick by it, but you have to notify everybody.”
The amount of haloacetic acids in drinking water can change from day to day, depending on the temperature, the amount of organic material in the water, the amount of chlorine added and other factors, according to the state.
The state limit of 60 milligrams per liter has been in place since 2004. Dolgeville’s level was measured at 66.7 milligrams per liter, department spokesperson Claire Pospisil said.
Dolgeville resident Christina Jaquay said she and her family will be drinking bottled water instead of the village water until the situation is addressed.
“My son drinks a lot of water, and it kind of freaks me right out,” she said.
Jaquay said the village should have notified residents immediately.
Dolgeville water plant operator Neal Winkler said he’s going by state and federal guidelines.
“It’s something that the public needs to be made aware of, but it’s not an immediate health risk,” he said.
Elevated contamination levels have been a problem for the past year and a half, Winkler said. The running yearly average last quarter was just below the maximum level, he said.
The village has a well-protected system that keeps out everything but natural contamination, he said. Tougher regulations in recent years have made accommodating the guidelines more difficult, he said.
“It’s the same water we’ve had for 100 years,” he said.
Winkler said he’s looking into alternate treatment methods that can address the problem, but making improvements could be an expensive undertaking.
June Doxstader of Dolgeville said she remembers receiving notifications about elevated levels in the past. Her husband, who was a smoker, died of cancer, so she takes the matter seriously, she said.
“Hopefully, they’ll do something to straighten the situation out,” she said.