All Newburghers recently got in the mail a lovely letter from the city’s water department, informing us of a problem that occurred in January, telling WHY it was a problem, how it happened, and what they did to ensure it won’t happen again. This is exactly the kind of forthright communication that all municipalities should imitate! Here is the letter, verbatim:
Important Information about your Drinking Water
City of Newburgh Water did not meet treatment requirements
Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard. Although this was not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we did to correct this situation.
We routinely monitor your water for turbidity (cloudiness). This tells us whether we are effectively filtering the water. The city exceeded the monthly filter effluent standard (13% of readings >0.3 NTU. No more than 5% of readings should exceed 0.3NTU), for the month of January 2012.
This violation is also being reported to the NYS Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What should I do?
You do not need to boil your water or take other actions. WE do not know of any contamination, and none of our testing has shown disease-causing organisms in the drinking water. People with severely compromised immune systems, infants and some elderly may be at increased risk. These people should seek advice from their health-care providers about drinking water. Guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hot Line, 800-426-4791.
What does this mean?
Turbidity has no health effects. However, it can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth. Turbidity may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms. These include bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause symptoms like nausea, cramps, diarrhea and headaches. These symptoms are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.
What happened? What was done?
A problem occurred when the sewer main from the water treatment plant became blocked with debris to the point that it affected the normal backwashing of the filters causing our filter effluent turbidity to rise. We addressed the problem immediately by contracting with McVac Environmental Services to pump out our backwash tanks. The serew line that leaves the plant is a dedicated main until it connects to the main trunk line for the city and is about 2 miles long, with limited access for cleanout. Once we found the blockage, and to permanently prevent this from re-occurring, we cut a section of the sewer main out and put in another access point to be able to maintain the sewer main on a regular basis. The plant is in compliance and our turbidity levels are back to normal.
For more information, contact Jeffry Wynans, superintendent of water for the City of Newburgh, at 845-565-3356.
Please share this information with all the people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools and businesses).
*******[End of Letter]********
Now, if only they’d tell us what “NTU” means!! Still, i thought that was pretty damn good for a letter from a city. If it was the school board, they’d still be huddling in executive session, trying to figure out a way to keep everyone from knowing what had happened, and how to lie about it when it finally came out in the press.