The Saratoga County Water Authority is flushing its system and taking other measures to reduce levels of potentially harmful chlorine by-products in the water, authority Chairman John E. Lawler said Tuesday.
The system’s three municipal water customers — Ballston, Clifton Park and Wilton — have all stopped taking water until the levels of chlorine by-products — called haloacetic acids — are reduced. The GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta, the authority’s biggest customer, has continued to take industrial process water.
To lower the levels, Lawler said the authority has changed how it uses disinfection chemicals at the water treatment plant in Moreau and is flushing the system to remove any residues.
“We’re reasonably confident the problem will be addressed very quickly,” Lawler said at a county Board of Supervisors meeting in Ballston Spa.
He spoke after two county residents raised their concerns with the county’s water quality during the public comment part of the meeting.
“One of the major concerns I hear is the quality of the water being delivered by Saratoga County,” said William Goslin, a Republican running for Town Board in Ballston.
Resident Dan Tagliento of Wilton said “It seems to be continuing problems, more than just the shakedown of a new system.”
“I understand they are working on it, but engineers should be put on the spot.”
Quarterly tests submitted to the state Health Department in August showed the county water contained 68 parts per billion of haloacetic acids. The maximum allowed under regulation is 60 ppb.
Lawler said part of the problem is that water has been sitting in the county’s transmission pipe for longer than expected — up to three days — which gives more time for the chemical reactions to take place.
Health officials have said there’s no short-term risk from drinking the water, though exposure over 20 or 30 years could have health consequences.
The acids are created by the chemical reaction of chlorine with traces of organic material in the water. They are present at some level in all chlorinated surface water supplies.
The authority has been producing about 2.5 million to 3 million gallons of water per day. Lawler said the system is being flushed by increasing production to about 5 million gallons. The water is being discharged into the county sewage treatment system.
“Between adjustments to the chemical process and the flushing, we’re quite confident — very confident, actually — that we will be back below the state threshold,” Lawler said.
The results of new tests are due back next week.
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