Board aims for cleaner Pass water

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By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Calaveras County Water District is exploring ways to reduce the contaminant count in the Ebbetts Pass water system.

At the CCWD board meeting yesterday, Supervisor of Operations and Maintenance Fred Burnett told directors that quarterly testing of the drinking water system last year revealed that the Ebbetts Pass system contained 69 parts per billion of haloacetic acids, 9 ppb over the allowable limit.

Haloacetic acids are chemical compounds that are formed from reaction of chlorine and naturally occurring organic material in the water. The district is required to alert its customers of the contaminants, he said.

Burnett told the board that the Environmental Protection Agency requires the following wording to be included in the information sent to customers: "Some people who drink water containing haloacetic acids in excess of the (maximum contaminant level of 60 parts per billion) over many years, may have an increased risk of getting cancer."

Burnett said, "the health risk is really, really minimal, but we need to do our best to get the number down."

Following the board meeting, Burnett said the district might consider replacing redwood water tanks with stainless steel tanks. The Ebbetts Pass system has nine wooden tanks.

He said small amounts of the redwood an organic material dissolve in the stored water and that water has enough chlorine so that, over time, the interaction produces byproducts such as haloacetic acids.

One way the district is minimizing the byproducts is by using and replacing the stored water more quickly, allowing less time for the byproducts to develop.

"Replacing tanks would be expensive," he said. "You can probably assume half-a-million dollars for each tank." He added that the district would try to find grant funding for such tank replacement, if the board wanted to go in that direction.

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