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What's in the water?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

* Report shows residents the quality of city water

Customers of the Brazil Water Utility can see first-hand what is in their drinking water.

Recently, the Brazil City Water Works Department mailed out its 2009 Consumer Confidence Report, which outlines the quality and contaminant levels from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2009.

According to the report, no contaminant violations occurred during the year.

Water Superintendent Jake Raubuch told The Brazil Times while the department tests for a laundry list of potential contaminants, the report only has to reflect those that were found.

"The state requires us to include any trace amount of any contaminant we find during the test," he said. "One of the areas we test for, but was not included on the report we mailed, were Synthetic Compounds, because none were detected."

Raubuch added the quality of the city's water is above average due to the state allowing reduced monitoring in some aspects.

"With an extended amount of time without major violations, the state allows for waivers, meaning certain contaminants do not have to be tested annually," he told The Brazil Times. "For example, we have a few waivers allowing us to test for iron and copper levels every three years. We tested for it in 2008, in which the results also appear on the recent report, and we won't have to test for those again until 2011."

Raubuch said he wanted to ensure residents levels are continually monitored, even though the main test may not have to be done on an annual basis.

"We do keep an eye on the levels at all times," he said. "Each month, we have to collect 10 Bac-T samples for microbiological contaminant testing.

According to Raubuch, the testing that is reflected on the report is conducted in either June or July.

"In the summer months, hotter weather may contribute to the creation of more contaminants," he said. "By testing during the summer months, it provides us a better gauge of the contaminant levels.

Although Carbon, Center Point, Harmony and Knightsville purchase their water supply from Brazil, Raubuch also tests the water quality in those towns, along with creating separate reports for each area.

"Even though the water comes from the same place, it needs to be tested separately because conditions vary," he said. "As an example, there could be a slight leak in a line in Center Point that affects its residents, but it would not affect those living in Carbon.

While the 2008 test showed the level of lead in Brazil's water was near the Action Level, the upcoming Water System Improvement Projects may help lower the level.

"Many of the older lines are constructed of galvanized steel, while all the new lines we are putting in are made of PVC pipe," Raubuch told The Brazil Times. "While not all the lines in town are being replaced, there is the possibility the iron level could go down in the future, but we are continuing to monitor everything."

Despite the constant testing of the water quality, Raubuch said he still comes across those who refuse to drink water from the tap.

"People tell me all the time they would rather drink bottled water than the 'scum from the tap,'" he said. "I respond by telling them I can provide a lot more information about what's in the tap water than they probably can about what's in their bottle, but all we can do is just keep working to maintain the excellent water quality we have in the city."

Raubuch also urged residents who have questions about the report, or concerns about the water system, to contact the Water Treatment Plant at 448-1700.

"There is a lot of numbers and abbreviations on the report, and we want to help residents understand it as much as possible," he said. "There are times where we may be out of the plant, but we have an answering machine and we will return calls."

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