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Drinking water in Aurora no longer in violation with contaminants

By Staff
2006 Drinking Water Quality report released to residents
By CHRISTINA HALE
Staff Writer
Residents of Aurora are no longer at risk for health problems associated with high levels of contaminants in their drinking water — a problem that was not released publicly as required by law in 2005, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The town of Aurora released the 2006 Annual Drinking Water Quality report in January for public inspection, which indicates no violation of contaminant levels during Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of 2006.
Terry Groome, the public works director for the town of Aurora, said residents were notified about the high levels of TTHMs in 2005.
In the last four years, the town averaged 72 ppb TTHMs, but got a result back of 120 ppb in 2005, according to the notice to the public dated Aug. 12, 2005.
Groome said the notice was mailed to residents in addition to the town providing a 2005 report.
Fred Hill, a representative with the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources regional office in Washington, said the town did notified the public and did send proof of that to the state office. “It was probably a paperwork glitch,” he said.
Hill commended Aurora for lowering these levels with recent improvements in plant operation and water distribution management.
With the release of the 2006 report, the town is “not in violation anymore,” Blette said.
Total trihalomethanes averaged 47 parts per billion during 2006 in Aurora, which is tested quarterly as a requirement for exceeding the maximum level. Trihalomethanes are a by-product of drinking water chlorination. The maximum level is 80 ppb. The levels found in the drinking water in 2006 ranged are from 2.0 ppb to 93 ppb, according to the report.
High levels of trihalomethanes can cause liver, kidney and central nervous system problems and an increase in cancer, said EPA.
Blette said the town is in compliance as long as the average TTHM level is below 80 ppb. Fluctuation in the range can be caused by weather, she said.
A couple of lead samples were above the regulated level, but the town was still in compliance with an average of 10 ppb overall, according to the 2006 report.
If more than 10 percent of water samples are above the maximum contaminant levels for lead, 15 ppb, the town is required to take action, said a spokesman with the U.S. EPA’s Safe Water Hotline.
The U.S. EPA suggests a maximum goal for lead at zero because this level of protection would not cause any of the potential health problems, according to their Web site.
Lead can cause a variety of adverse effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the action level for short periods such as delays in normal physical and mental development in babies and young children, slight deficits in the attention span, hearing and learning abilities of children and slight increases in blood pressure in some adults. Long-term effects can lead to stroke, kidney disease and cancer.
The water that is used by the town of Aurora is ground water from two wells. Lead may occur in drinking water either by contamination of the water source or by corrosion of lead plumbing and fixtures. Lead is sometimes used in water service lines, according to the EPA Web site.
Groome said the town is working to reduce lead levels in the drinking water. “We’re trying to do it without additional chemicals,” he said.