PFOA 2005
June 23, 2005. Wood County water quality reports OK.
By Evan Bevins. The Parkersburg News & Sentinel. (West Virginia)


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The Parkersburg News & Sentinel (West Virginia)

June 23, 2005

Wood County water quality reports OK


PARKERSBURG - Drinking water in Wood County met federal and state safety standards in 2004, according to reports from area utilities.

Water quality reports from Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown and the Claywood Park, Lubeck, Mineral Wells and Union Williams public service districts showed water contaminants below the maximum limits established by state and federal authorities.

"We've got safe water," Parkersburg Utility Manager Clarence Cox said.

According to the reports, which are either mailed to customers or published in the newspaper and available at the utility offices, all water, including bottled water, contains at least small amounts of some contaminants. Federal and state regulations provide limits, controls and treatment practices to minimize the materials and their effects on people's health.

"All water has some level of minerals and that sort of thing," Cox said.

Parkersburg violated one state monitoring regulation by failing to test the chlorine residue in the distribution system one day in June 2004. According to the report, this was the result of a miscommunication and the problem has since been corrected.

The utility's water constantly shows a sodium level of 30 milligrams per liter, above the recommended level of 20 milligrams per liter. This is because of the nature of the water and generally should cause no problems, Cox said. Still, people on low-sodium or sodium-free diets should be aware of this, he said.

"We recommend they discuss the matter with their physician and see if it is a problem, if they should take any kind of precautions," Cox said.

Cox said the utility is not required to perform annual tests for ammonium perfluorooctanoate, also known as C8, used by DuPont in the manufacturing process for Teflon.

Frozen-food maker Luigino's recently cited potential C8 contamination as the reason it nixed plans to build a factory in Parkersburg in 2003. Luigino's has sued the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, saying it should have notified the company of a class-action lawsuit against DuPont by area residents claiming their health had been harmed by the discharge of C8 into local water supplies. DuPont maintains the detergent-like substance poses no threat to humans.

The customers in the lawsuit do not receive their water from Parkersburg. When the city's wells were tested, C8 was found only in one, Cox said.

"Although it could be detected in one of the five wells, there was not enough of it to even measure," he said.

Although it is an unregulated contaminant, the Lubeck Public Service District did test for C8. Lubeck customers were among members of the lawsuit's plaintiff class and the district was a co-defendant before reaching a settlement in 2003. The overall settlement of the case this year requires DuPont to provide a water filtration system to reduce the C8 levels in the water of Lubeck and five other utilities in West Virginia and Ohio.

Lubeck's water quality report says C8 was detected in the water at a level of 0.464 parts per billion. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has established 150 ppb as a safe level of C8 in drinking water.

The district showed asbestos levels slightly higher than the recommended limit, 8.98 million fibers per liter compared to 7 million fibers per liter. However, asbestos levels in water are not regulated by the state and the findings did not constitute a violation.

"The original system that was put in had asbestos (in the) piping," said Jim Cox, the Lubeck district manager and Clarence Cox's brother. "What probably happened is we've had a break in the pipes some place. A combination of the break or our repairing of the break is likely what caused that (contamination)."

Jim Cox said the asbestos level on the report is an average that varies depending on when the test was taken. Hopefully, the material is flushed out of the system soon after a break, he said.

"We're keeping an eye on it," he said.

New and repaired pipes are made of plastic and do not contain asbestos, Jim Cox said.

The water quality report for the Central Boaz Public Service District is expected to be completed next week.

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