Mayor announces water treatment changes



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Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton looks on as Tim Gholson explains changes made at the Monroe Water Treatment Plant, meant to combat byproducts in City water, on Wednesday afternoon. City of Bloomington Utilities chose to implement two new chlorination points at the plant as part of a series of changes. MK Wildeman and MK Wildeman Buy Photos

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton announced a series of changes Wednesday aimed at addressing an upward trend in byproducts found in city water.

In January, Hamilton described the level of disinfectant byproducts, or DBPs, in Bloomington water as “too close for comfort.”

On Wednesday, Hamilton said the levels are still higher than he’d like them to be.

“Our DBP levels remain higher than we want, though they are still in compliance with federal requirements,” Hamilton said during a press conference at the Monroe Water Treatment Plant. “We will aggressively continue analysis of our options and steps to be taken in the longer term.”

DBPs are a result of the interaction between disinfectants, such as chlorine, organic and inorganic matter.

At its last testing March 22, several testing sites in Bloomington narrowly avoided exceeding the allowance for haloacetic acids (HAA5) in city water.

Sites at Profile Parkway, on Bloomington’s west side, the Blucher Poole Wastewater Treatment Plant and Marlin School all reported levels of HAA5 within 1 part per billion of the limit, which is 60 parts per billion.

Long-term exposure to DBPs is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Rachel Atz, water quality coordinator for the City of Bloomington, said increased DBPs could be a result of more organics in the Lake Monroe reservoir — she said because it is a man-made reservoir, there is more sedimentation as it ages — more customers and weather.

Among the substantive changes in tackling DBPs Hamilton announced Wednesday is the implementation of monthly, rather than quarterly, testing. Hamilton pledged to continue making data public on the “B Clear” portal of the City of Bloomington website as information is collected.

“I will personally closely monitor the progress in the weeks and months ahead,” Hamilton said.

City of Bloomington Utilities, or CBU, also opted to implement two new chlorination points at the Monroe Treatment Plant. The change, which was implemented Monday, moves the point in the process where disinfection of the water begins.

Tim Gholson, the plant’s superintendent, said he is optimistic the change would help in removing organics in the water.

CBU is also planning to put a correctional flushing program in place by 
June 2016.

As the weather gets warmer, the level of DBPs is expected to increase. Atz said she hopes the changes will mitigate the risk of exceeding acceptable levels.

“We hope that these new changes that we’ve made to disinfectant feed locations are going to help provide that extra room there,” Atz said.

Hamilton reiterated information will be made available to the public as the City 
collects it.

“Some of this depends upon things that are way out of our control,” Hamilton said. “We’re doing all we can to do the things that are in our 
control.”

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