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Yes. My family and I live in town, continue to drink and have consumed water from the Kensico Water District since we moved here almost seventeen years ago.
- David Smyth, P.E., Town Engineer/Interim Superintendent of Water and Sewer
All of our first quarter 2019 samples have just been received. We are analyzing the results and will be calculating the Annual Average for both districts in association with Health Department Standards. The results will soon be posted online. Initial review of these samples show reduced levels from last quarter but due to the annual running average we are unfortunately expected to exceed the Maximum Contaminant Level for the 1st Quarter of 2019 for both Kensico and Pocantico Water Districts.
The consultant submitted their proposal on March 18, 2019 and the services were approved by the Town Supervisor, Carl Fulgenzi, as an emergency measure on March 19th, 2019. The Town Board will be voting on a resolution to officially authorize the hiring of the consultant on March 26th. A meeting has been scheduled with the consultant on Thursday March 21th, 2019 to discuss the pathway to finding short term and long term solutions. A timeline will be created at this meeting and provided to the public. We will also be meeting with the Westchester County Board of Health to discuss similar topics on March 29th. Keeping the Health Department up to date and active in this process will speed the review time as to accelerate permit issuing if needed shall operational changes to the system will be required.
We have begun contacting the Superintendents of the Valhalla, Westlake and Pocantico School Districts and administrators at EF Academy. The Department will be offering to immediately sample the water at a fixture inside the building near the point where the main enters the building. Our plan is to take one sample at each school campus site and this sampling will be tested monthly while schools are in session with the results posted online.
We will be sampling next week at four routine sampling sites in the district. We are also conducting additional sampling at the entrance and exit at the Commerce Street Pump Station and at the Water Storage Tanks located on Lozza Drive. These four additional samples will provide an understanding of where and at what levels the Haloacetic Acids are being created in our system. This information will assist in determining where and what type of measures are possible to deploy to reduce the acids levels.
We would first like to answer this question by restating the information contained within the public notice as provided by the State Health Department.
"The presence of haloacetic acids at the concentrations detected in the water system does not constitute an immediate health hazard. Although the standard is slightly exceeded, it is not a 'bright line' between drinking water concentrations that cause health effects and those that do not. The standard for haloacetic acids is set at a water concentration at which exposure is much lower than exposures identified as causing health effects in animals. Thus, exceedance of the standard is not a trigger for health effects, but a trigger for water suppliers to take action to reduce the haloacetic acid concentrations and maintain what is already a large margin of protection against health effects."
Provided for you on our website is a fact sheet on Haloacetic Acids issued by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Sciences which summarizes the carcinogenic (cancer producing) effects of the contaminant:
"Human studies have yet to confirm that DCA or TCA [Haloacetic Acids] exposure increases the risk of cancer. Based on the animal data, at the current HAA5 regulatory level [60 micrograms per liter], the cancer risk is estimated to increase by about 1 in 60,000 for every 10 years of exposure."
This cancer risk was estimated by EPA and is based on animal testing data. Animal studies that have shown impacts of Haloacetic Acids occurred with continuous high levels of exposure between 4 and 18 times the standard regulatory amounts.
For those whom have a compromised immune system, our recommendation is to contact your doctor to request medical advice on the consumption of the water. Should you have any concern what so ever regarding your health or the safety of the water, we would recommend you seek to filter your water to reduce/remove the Haloacetic Acid contaminant.
We have provided a list of filters that were reported to reduce Haloacetic Acids from the water on our website. Also on this site are two studies that show the results of the use of these filters which supports their use. We would recommend you contact the manufacture if you have questions/concerns with their system. The maintenance and directions for the use of these filters should be followed to return the benefit desired.
All municipalities have some levels of Haloacetic Acids within their water. Other municipalities have had levels that exceeded the standard in the past and several operate at Haloacetic Acid water concentrations that are half of what we traditionally yield. Municipalities with lower levels either filter their water or have smaller systems that do not require extended contact times for their disinfectant to safely disable the pathogens in their system. This level of chlorine and reduced age of the water in a smaller system tends to keep by-product levels down. The Town considered installing a $10M filtration system within the Kensico Water District in 1997 due to change in the regulations. Around this time the Town consolidating the Hawthorne, Thornwood and Valhalla districts while incurring $24M in debt to complete necessary upgrades the operations of the districts. This work also included the lining of a majority of the water mains in the district which aids to decrease the disinfection by-products that could be formed within the system. As the Town received a waiver from having to install this plant, the additional cost on top of the debt incurred for the required capital improvements may have been too costly.
The Town is only required to send out direct notices when the state standards are exceeded. In the last fourteen years, Kensico Water District only exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) one other time in 2011 while the Pocantico Water District only exceeded the MCL in 2016. However, we are required and do publish our annual averages for Haloacetic Acids for all ten of our water districts in Annual Water Quality Reports. Post cards of these reports are posted for viewing when they are available to inform district customers. We also provide the most recent reports online for viewing anytime. The fourteen year average for Haloacetic Acids is 50.9 and 45.4 micrograms per liter for Kensico and Pocantico Water Districts respectively. These averages are under the MCL as established by the State and EPA.
The Town is able to systematically flush the distribution system but there are potential negative impacts that could arise from this measure. Flushing, through fire hydrants, disrupts the system resulting in potential laundry impacts and produces cloudy water throughout the system. Flushing also uses large volumes of water resulting in higher costs to the district. Although these are acceptable consequences when compared to increasing the health of our residents, flushing also puts additional pressure on the system and could lead to water main failures. When needed, we perform flushing of our system.