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Who regulates Pluris-Wedgefield’s drinking water?
Pluris-Wedgefield’s water quality is regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). EPA grants authority to DEP to implement the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Florida has adopted EPA regulations and rules related to the Act. These regulations set limits for certain substances in drinking water and outline when and how providers must test drinking water.
How is my drinking water monitored?
Under federal standards, all public water systems must test drinking water for approximately 100 different substances on a regular basis to ensure drinking standards are met. These substances include disinfection byproducts such as Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Halo Acetic Acids (HAA5s), both of which were parameters recently tested for at Wedgefield.
Federal standards establish Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for each substance. These levels are established by EPA to protect public health and are calculated based on a lifetime of exposure so that a person would need to drink two liters of water in excess of the standard for 70 years before having any increased chance of adverse health effects.
What do recent results indicate about Wedgefield’s drinking water?
While the test results do not indicate any immediate health risk, per the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the test results do indicate that Pluris needs to make changes in its operations to address elevated levels of disinfection byproducts, specifically TTHM and HAA5s.
DEP has already communicated this to Pluris, and we are committed to ensuring they implement all necessary corrective actions.
Is my water safe?
Federal standards are established by EPA to protect public health and are calculated so that a person would need to drink two liters of water in excess of the standard for 70 years before having any increased chance of adverse health effects.
The test results indicate no immediate health risk or need for Wedgefield residents to change their daily routines or to find an alternate source of water (unless that is your personal preference).
Residents with specific health-related questions or concerns are encouraged to contact their physician or the Orange County Health Department.
What is being done to address these elevated levels of disinfection byproducts?
Pluris will be required to perform more frequent (quarterly) sampling. DEP will continue to make these results available to the community.
The department will also begin immediately working with the utility to perform a system analysis to identify any operational improvements or corrective actions that can be made to reduce levels of disinfection byproducts as quickly as possible.
DEP is experienced with working with water providers to address the challenge of balancing the flow of water with the proper application of chlorine while minimizing disinfection byproducts.
While this single exceedance is not a violation under federal guidelines, the department will continue to closely monitor the more frequent sampling and will hold Pluris accountable should a violation occur.
What about chlorine in the water?
Throughout Florida, chlorine is used in disinfection of public water supplies. The most recent test results for Wedgefield indicate that chlorine levels did not meet the minimum level established in federal drinking water standards.
The low chlorine levels are a violation of drinking water standards and indicate that the facility needs to evaluate its current operations. DEP is taking action to ensure Pluris takes corrective measures and that the facility returns to compliance.
What about bacteria in the water?
Data collected by Orange County in April indicated the presence of total coliform, which is not a threat to human health but which can be an indicator of the potential presence of E. coli (which is dangerous to human health). Follow-up testing was conducted immediately, and that testing showed that E. coli was not present in the water.
It is worth noting that total coliform bacteria was only detected in samples collected inside homes and was not found in any samples at other points tested in the water distribution system. Coliform bacteria are not uncommon in the home around sinks and faucets.
Will Pluris be held accountable to meet federal water quality standards?
Absolutely. Pluris has been and will remain accountable to meet state and federal drinking water standards. DEP is dedicated to protecting Florida’s water resources and ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of water for all residents and visitors. Whenever sampling or other evaluations verify compliance issues, DEP holds the utility accountable and works with them to identify and implement any necessary corrective actions.
Why is Pluris flushing the water lines?
Flushing is a key part of distribution system maintenance and is an industry-wide practice that is used to maintain water quality. This can be safely performed without impacts to your daily use.
What about the color and odor of the water?
The aesthetic qualities – color, odor and taste – of drinking water can vary for a variety of reasons.
However, color, odor and taste are not typically affected by disinfection byproducts.
Chlorine, which is added to disinfect water, may have an odor (similar to a swimming pool) associated with it.
Hydrogen sulfide, which is naturally occurring, may have a rotten-egg odor associated with it, but poses no health risk. This is likely not an issue for the Pluris facility because they have an Advanced Wastewater Treatment System that removes a significant amount of hydrogen sulfide from the water.
What about my utility rates?
Water rates are regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission. To file a complaint about rates, you can go here: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/ConsumerAssistance/ComplaintForm
How can I learn more about my drinking water?
DEP staff is available answer any additional questions; please contact Nathan Hess at 407.897.4140 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DEP is also working with the Wedgefield homeowner’s association to schedule an informational session to address questions and concerns. We will work with the HOA to notify the community when the date, time and location are set.
Additionally, DEP is creating a web page to keep residents updated as data and other information becomes available. We anticipate this resource being available early next week and you will be provided a link to it.
The Florida Department of Health website has a number of resources on drinking water. The following provides a good place to start: Drinking water information.
Also the following news story contained helpful information: WMFE Interview with Dr. Duranceau about water treatment and what tests can tell you about the safety of your tap water.