The City of Monroe City has reported the chemical engineer water study could take up to one year to be completed. City Administrator Jackie Pangborn explained the process, stating, “It will be a lengthy process as it will be best to get through a full year so they can see what type of situations we have throughout the year.” The engineer study will continue through all four seasons before the City of Monroe City will receive a report on the study’s findings to help with improving the water quality.
The study is being done by Black and Veatch, of Chesterfield and is estimated to cost $25-30,000. The Board of Alderman approved the study at the October 22, 2019 City Council meeting, after hearing recommendations from PeopleServices Manager George Hausdorf, who stated, “The engineer study will improve the process of the source water.”
Black and Veatch began the study the same week it was approved by the board and has been taking samples of the water. Hausdorf shared, “We have supplied them with data concerning chemical usage and information to help them complete the study.” The engineer study will continue through all four seasons before the City of Monroe City will receive a report on the study’s findings.
On October 22, during the same meeting, Mark McNally had addressed the Board of Alderman to consider becoming a member of Clarence Cannon Wholesale Water Commission. McNally gave a detailed presentation which included overall cost, savings to the City and an estimate of profit the City could have to use for sewer improvements and how the commission worked. McNally stated, “I want the City of Monroe City to understand they do have options to have safe drinking water.”
In the past year Monroe City water customers were notified water sample tests showed the Monroe City Public Water System has levels of disinfection byproducts, reporting high levels of total trihalomethanes (TTHM), which were above drinking water standards. The customers were also notified an engineering study of the treatment process is being conducted to gain additional treatment options to alleviate the total trihalomethanes.
TTHM are a group of disinfection byproducts that form when chlorine compounds that are used to disinfect water, react with other naturally occurring chemicals in the water. They are colorless, and will evaporate out of the water into the air. There are four significant TTHM potentially found in disinfected drinking water and their combined concentration is referred to as total TTHM.
Levels of TTHM generally increase in the summer months due to the warmer temperatures, but can also be affected by seasonal changes in source water quality or by changing amounts of disinfection added. Water systems often can experience temporary increases in TTHM due to short-term increases in chlorine disinfection. Chlorine disinfection increases can occur when there is a water main break, when water systems are under repair, or when there is a potential microbial problem or threat.
People may be exposed to TTHM in drinking water from ingestion (i.e., drinking the water and ingesting it in foods and/or ice prepared with the water). In addition, TTHM vaporize readily into the air so inhalation exposure to TTHM can be significant, especially when showering and bathing, as can exposure from absorption through the skin.
In the letter sent to the public, the City expresses customers do not need to use an alternative water supply, but for specific health concerns, consult a doctor. The information provided shares there is no immediate risk, and if it had been, customers would have been notified immediately.
Based on the available information, long term consumption of TTHM in drinking water above the MCL may increase the risk of certain types of cancer (e.g., bladder, colon, and rectal) and other adverse effects in some people. People Service’s General Manager George Hausdorf stated, “Drinking one liter for 60 years everyday could increase a person’s risk for bladder cancer.” The degree of risk for these effects will depend on the TTHM level and the duration of exposure.
Consumption of water with TTHM levels somewhat above the MCL for limited durations, for example, while corrective actions are being taken to lower the levels, is not likely to significantly increase risks of adverse health effects for most people. Because some data indicate that disinfection byproducts may increase the risk of developmental effects, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant may wish to avoid consuming water containing TTHM and other disinfection byproducts exceeding the drinking water standard. There are no current studies to show any short-term dangers.
For questions or concerns, residents can call Hausdorf at (573)735-2822 or call the DNR at (660)385-8000.