What's in your water? Boyle Co. district warned of contamination

Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 5:01 PM EDT
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It doesn't take long to find a pool in Parksville, a small community inside Boyle County. "You can cool down when it's hot," explained the youngest of the Isaac family. Her mother, Kelly Isaac, said her kids swim for about an hour a day in the summer.

Isaac said she noticed a warning on her water bill recently, but didn't really understand it. "I thought that it would be a problem for a month, and that it would get cleared up and it would be fixed."

The back of the water bill explained that the Parksville Water District violated a drinking water standard. The water had too much Haloacetic acid. The back of the bill warned that elderly, people with infants and pregnant women should talk to a doctor about drink the water.

"To see something like that on the back of a bill can be startling for people," commented WKYT's Miranda Combs.

"Correct," replied Danville City Engineer Earl Coffey. "And most people don't understand the dynamics of drinking water and how that's changed," he said. Danville's water plant supplies water to Parksville and several other districts. The City of Danville is spending $24 million to get the plant up to code. Coffey said the construction is what caused the spike in Haloacetic acid. "Any water quality standard we take very seriously, including this one."

Haloacetic acid is a disinfectant byproduct. Large amounts over many years can cause an increased risk of cancer.

"This is an issue that's occurring across Kentucky," explained State Division of Water Director Peter Goodmann. The state sent Danville and it's purchasers notices of violations. After three violations, they will be sent on to enforcement. "The chronic risk from disinfection byproducts for getting cancer is very, very low. But with that said, there's a rule for a reason."

Goodmann said the higher level of disinfectant byproduct isn't uncommon. In fact, right now about seventy of the 409 public water systems in the state are in violation for the same reason. "Our goal isn't to collect penalties, our goal is to get in compliance."

"All utilities are adapting to manage their water treatment to comply with the new levels," Coffey agreed. Coffey said the current Haloacetic acid levels at the Danville plant are now well below the threshold. However, the state requires a four-quarter average, which right now, still brings them down. "You almost have to get all the way through a calendar year to literally replace a number if it's out of skew that bad."