This past September, the City of New Brunswick provided public notification to water consumers regarding an exceedance of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in our drinking water. TTHMs are a type of contaminant that are measured and tracked quarterly as part of regular water testing performed by the New Brunswick Water Utility.
Samples taken in early August showed unusually high levels above 80 ppb at three testing sites, which resulted in a violation and subsequent notices to the public.
TTHMs are organic chemicals that can occur when chlorine used in the treatment process reacts with natural organic matter in water, creating a byproduct. The standard for TTHM measurement per period is 80 parts per billion (ppb). TTHM sampling is performed at eight sites in New Brunswick once per quarter and the results are averaged with the results of the preceding three quarters. If the rolling average of those four quarters exceeds 80 ppb, a violation is deemed to have occurred.
Upon receipt of August’s samples, the City immediately implemented a number of successful measures to reduce our TTHM levels. November’s sampling produced levels for the quarter well below the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for all sample sites. However, the results of the Sears testing site on Route 1 at 23.38 ppb, when averaged with the results of the previous three quarters, remained slightly elevated, resulting in an average of 80.6 ppb.
What should I do?
- There is nothing you need to do. You do not need to boil your water or take other corrective actions.
- If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and may wish to seek advice from your health care providers.
What does this mean?
This is not an emergency. If it had been an emergency, you would have been notified within 24 hours.
*People who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.*
What is being done?
We will continue to utilize the measures we put in place to lessen the potential for TTHM formation, including but not limited to the tightening of our filtration parameters, greater frequency of backwashing in our filtration system, the adjustment of chlorine levels at different points in the treatment process and increased amounts of potassium permanganate added at our water intake points. These changes, in addition to the onset of colder weather, have greatly reduced TTHM formation.
For more information, please contact Alexei Walus at (732) 745-5060 or the New Brunswick Water Utility, 78 Bayard Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.