City cited for failing to test water

Published 11:16 am Friday, July 6, 2007

By Staff
Failure to monitor, not pollutant level, triggers notification
Contributing Editor
Washington officials say an oversight by the city resulted in it failing to monitor the drinking water for a specific pollutant in 2006, a pollutant that was detected in the city’s water supply in March 2005.
That oversight resulted in the city receiving a violation notice from the state. Washington was cited for failing to take a water sample, not for the pollutant being detected in its water supply, said Adam Waters, water resources superintendent for the city. The city was not fined or subjected to other disciplinary action.
The county buys water from the city. The county has notified its water customers about the incident.
The city had been testing its water supply every three years, Waters said.
During routine monitoring of Washington’s water supply on March 14, 2005, a synthetic organic chemicals/pesticides analysis indicated that Di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate was detected. As a result of the analysis, the city began monitoring its water supply on a quarterly basis. Based on results of that quarterly monitoring, the state reduced the monitoring frequency to annual testing.
Waters said that’s when a misunderstanding occurred.
Di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate, also known as DEHA, is a light-colored, oily liquid with an aromatic odor, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.
DEHA’s maximum contaminant level is 0.4 parts per million. The maximum contaminant level goal for drinking water is 0.4 parts per million. The EPA warns that DEHA may cause health problems if found in amounts greater than the health standard established by the EPA.
The notice was included in the city’s annual report on the quality of its drinking water. The city became aware of the violation on March 6 of this year.
Waters said no more than six people have called his office to talk about the notice the city sent to its water customers. Most of those callers thought the problem was with the DEHA level, not realizing the violation was a result of the city not performing the required testing in 2006, Waters said.
If no DEHA is detected in annual testing through 2009, the city will be allowed to resume monitoring its water supply for specific pollutants and other elements every three years, Waters said.
Lewis and Waters said they have no idea how the DEHA may have entered the city’s water supply, which comes from eight wells. It’s possible, they said, the DEHA come from another source.
The EPA includes Di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate on its list of inerts of toxicological concerns. Di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate has been show to cause cancer in rats used for research purposes.
According to the EPA’s Web site, there is no human carcinogenicity data.
DEHA is used in making plastics. It is also used as a solvent; in aircraft lubricants; as a hydraulic fluid; as a plasticizer or solvent in the following cosmetics: bath oils, eye shadow, cologne, foundations, rouge, blusher, nail-polish remover, moisturizers and indoor tanning preparations; in meat wrapping operations.
In the short term, DEHA is not known to cause any health problems when people are exposed to it at levels above the maximum contaminant level for relatively short periods of time. In the long term, it has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the maximum contaminant level: cancer, reduced body weight and bone mass, and damage to liver and testes.
In the fall of 1989, state health officials warned Washington water customers that the city’s water supply contained high levels of carbon tetrachloride and trihalomethanes, known carcinogens. That notification resulted in the city changing water sources, switching from surface water to groundwater.