City of Watertown Addresses Report of Contaminated Drinking Water.

Trevor Wickstrom, Staff Reporter

A recent report has some residents of Watertown a bit worried. The City of Watertown issued a statement their annual water quality report. “The City of Watertown exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level(MCL) of 80 ug/L (micro grams per liter) for Total Trihalomethanes(TTHM) present in drinking water.”

Watertown’s contaminant level for this chemical is claimed to be 80.8 ug/L throughout the four calendar quarters ending March 31, 2017.  This limit was lowered over ten years ago as medical evidence dictated what was a “safe” level.

0.8 over the limit does not seem like a lot, but the city’s statement goes on to claim, “Some studies suggest that people who drank chlorinated water (which contains Trihalomethanes) or water containing elevated levels of Trihalomethanes for long periods of time may have an increased risk for certain health effects. For example, some studies of people who drank chlorinated drinking water for 20 to 30 years show that long term exposure to disinfection byproducts (including Trihalomethanes) is associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer.”

This may be the best argument ever made for drinking spring water.

According to the National Groundwater Association, a trade group that teaches homeowners about private wells, trihalomethanes are a group of chemicals that form in the process of disinfecting water, when “chlorine reacts with certain organic and inorganic compounds in the water being treated.”  Chlorine is the most used disinfectant in New York State, and according to Watertown, it is used for the benefits of the public health.

The city also claims that there is more possible health effects of long term exposure to elevated levels of trihalomethanes in pregnant women. Stating, it could cause “low birth weights.”

The city statement also claims, “Chemicals that cause adverse health effects in laboratory animals after high levels of exposure may pose a risk for adverse health effects in humans exposed to similar or lower levels over long periods of time,” but goes on to mention “Therefore, we do not know for sure if the observed increases in risk for cancer and other health effects are due to trihalomethanes or some other factor.”

The city is in the process of identifying the source of the problem, i.e., what other elements are present in the water supply that the chlorine is reacting with.