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Newport Water Found in Violation of Safety Standards

The Newport water system recently violated a drinking water standard. This is not considered an emergency.

The Newport Water Division, which provides water to customers in Newport and Middletown and wholesale to Portsmouth and Naval Station Newport, announced that its drinking water has exceeded the permitted level of trihalomethanes. 

A notice was sent to all customers.

Trihalomethanes are formed in drinking-water primarily as a result of chlorination of organic matter present naturally in raw water supplies, according to the World Health Organization

The Newport Water Division routinely tests at various sites within the distribution system for disinfectant by products (DBPs). EPA sets standards for controlling the levels of disinfectants and DBPs in drinking water, including total trihalomethanes (TTHMs).

The average results of tests taken during the last four quarters show that the system exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level (MCL), for TTHMs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard for TTHMs is 80 parts per billion (ppb) for an annual running average. Newport Water Division’s average level of TTHMs for the last four quarters (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) is 82.9 ppb.

The following FAQ was provided by the water division:

What does this mean? 

This is not an emergency or immediate risk, according to the department. There are no actions that you need to take at this time. You do not need to use an alternate water supply. You do not need to boil your water or take other corrective action. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.

Many water systems treat water with a chemical disinfectant, such as chlorine, in order to inactivate pathogens that cause disease. While disinfectants are effective in controlling many harmful microorganisms, they react with organic and inorganic matter in the water to form DBPs, some of which pose health risks at certain levels. Some people who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. The public health benefits of chlorine disinfection practices are significant and well recognized. Consequently, one of the most complex questions facing water supply professionals is how to reduce risks from disinfectants and DBPs while providing increased protection against microbial contaminants.

What is being done?

TTHMs are a group of volatile organic compounds (Chloroform, Bromoform, Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane) which form with time when the natural organics in water react with chlorine as it breaks down. Because of the source water quality in Newport’s reservoirs, removing the level of organics necessary to meet the TTHM standard, particularly during the warm weather months, is one of our greatest challenges. The length of time water remains in the distribution system, commonly referred to as “water age”, is also known to produce higher TTHM levels as the water gets older. A variety of engineered systems can be implemented to achieve a lower water age in the distribution system.

Newport Water has previously taken the following steps to lower TTHMs in your drinking water: (1) installed mixing systems in the Reservoir Rd and Goulart Lane water storage tanks which assists in reducing the water age in the system; (2) upgraded the Lawton Valley Sedimentation Basin #1. The sedimentation basins are the first process in the treatment plant which removes organics from the raw water supply; (4) installed aeration systems in the Lawton Valley and St. Mary’s Reservoirs. The aeration system has the potential to reduce algae blooms in the raw water supply, which can lead to higher organic levels in the treated water; and (5) treatment plant staff has performed adjustments to the chlorine dioxide pH levels in an attempt to better control DBPs in the system. This has been accomplished by using slightly less chlorine in the production of the chlorine dioxide, which will help reduce TTHM levels.

In January 2012 the City of Newport awarded a design build contract to the joint venture of AECOM – C.H. Nickerson for the Station No. 1 Water Treatment Plant Upgrade and the New Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant Project. The value of the contract is $67,000,000.00. Prior to the award of the contract, Newport Water conducted detailed pilot testing to determine the optimal treatment method to reduce TTHMs. Based on the results of the studies, Newport Water is requiring advanced water treatment processes to be included in the improvements to the treatment plants in order to assure the sufficient level of organics removal in order to control TTHMs. Construction of the water treatment plant improvement projects began in September 2012 and is progressing on schedule to have the entire project completed and operational by December 2014.


Patrick May 08, 2013 at 04:40 PM
expensive AND bad for you. fantastic
Patrick May 08, 2013 at 04:51 PM
any info about whether a regular water filter will help remove these chemicals? my guess is it won’t.
MRQT May 08, 2013 at 05:34 PM
I'll take the by product of chlorinatined water over the alternative anyday.
John Weisley May 09, 2013 at 12:51 AM
What a travesty. They pump the water full of chlorine because they don't have enough money to replace the maze of century old lead pipes that carry the water. Instead of replacing the pipes in the 80's and 90's they did something else with it. Now we have extremely expensive, unhealthy, and dangerous tap water. We can't use the elementary schools bldg's because there is asbestos in the basement, so lets spend $28mil on a new school, and all the kids can drink poisonous tap water. PS - This is not a new revelation. This water was tested 8 years ago by independant consultants and found to be harmful to small animals.
Mike Cullen May 09, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Yes, filters DO work and you needn't spend a fortune. This link will give you info from a recent Consumers Report study of filters: http://www.9news.com/news/article/252074/344/Consumer-Reports-rates-the-best-water-filters
Patrick May 09, 2013 at 01:14 PM
MRQT is happy, although i suppose one mouthful of pool water equals about a life time of npt drinking-water chlorine
MRQT May 09, 2013 at 03:34 PM
that is a very true statement Patrick....and quite honestly if anyone complaining is a smoker than you have no right to complain about chemical by products in the tap water. Also if you eat food that in not organic and full of chemicals. Lets not forgwt the chemicals you you to clean to wash with...all are carcinogenic. So please use your efforts to thwart Monsanto(the Biggest GMO producer in the USA). Unless a notice is put out that we need to boil the water then we can worry.
frank macedo May 13, 2013 at 02:35 PM
pretty ironic isn't it? the water is going up 100% and the only thing it is good for is flushing you're TOILET but the sewer charge went up 100% too! Newport is the biggest rip-off in the country what a joke

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