By Lanny Brannock
Department for Environmental Protection
Data from Kentucky’s 441 public water systems shows they consistently produce excellent quality water in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water requirements, according to the Kentucky annual Drinking Water Report. The report summarizes the compliance data and status of public water system compliance monitoring results.
The Safe Drinking Water Act rules require Kentucky’s public water systems to regularly test produced water for more than 100 contaminants such as bacteria, nitrates and other chemicals. The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) reviews the results and issues the report. A water system that exceeds the threshold for a contaminant is required to take corrective action and notify its customers.
“This report illustrates that Kentucky public water systems, which serve more than 95 percent of Kentuckians, reliably provide high-quality drinking water to our citizens,” said Peter Goodmann, Director of the Division of Water. “Given all the challenges faced by public water systems, this record of compliance is admirable.”
The annual Drinking Water Report is required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and lists Kentucky’s 441 public water systems and all notices of violation issued in the previous calendar year. Most of the violations recorded are administrative violations regarding issues with monitoring and reporting. While Kentucky’s public water systems continue to show improvement in collecting samples and reporting the analytical result, in 2015, an increase in errors in Public Notifications and Consumer Confidence Reports translated into an increase in the number of monitoring and reporting violations.
Previous annual drinking water reports had shown a progressive decrease in the number of health-based violations over the past several years. However, as anticipated, the number of health-based violations at public water systems increased in 2014 and 2015 with the implementation of new Safe Drinking Water Act requirements for some public water systems.
Health-based violations increased for the second consecutive year from 115 violations in 2014 to 217 violations in 2015. These 217 health-based violations constitute 0.26 percent of more than 82,000 test results evaluated each year.
The increase of health-based violations is directly attributed to the continued implementation of the “Stage 2 Disinfection Byproduct Rule,” a recent rule from the federal government. Disinfection Byproducts (DPBs) are a class of contaminants that result from the interaction of disinfection chemicals such as chlorine with other chemicals in the water, and violations related to DPBs constitute 86 percent of all health-based drinking water violations while a small number of other violations constitute the balance of health-based violations.
The federal rule for Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts requires public water systems that purchase water from another public water system and distribute that water to their customers (purchaser systems) to monitor for and meet recently established standards, including standards for DPBs, from which they were previously exempt. Several water systems experienced an increase in health-based violations because of the implementation of these more stringent standards in 2014 and 2015. The increase in health-based violations is not reflective of a change in water quality.
“When a violation is observed, the affected public water systems adjust their treatment and distribution processes and most water systems quickly return to compliance. The Division of Water provides targeted technical assistance for water systems that do not return to compliance in a timely manner,” said Sarah Jon Gaddis, Manager of the Compliance and Technical Assistance Branch. While Kentucky’s water systems continue to perform very well, “DOW takes very seriously the requirement of public water systems to submit timely and accurate monitoring reports,” Gaddis said. “This is reflected in the increased number of administrative violations issued in 2015.”
The reported 2015 drinking water data shows that none of Kentucky’s 441 public drinking water systems exceeded federally established limits for metals, including lead, or cancer-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The report is online at http://water.ky.gov/DrinkingWater/Pages/AnnualComplianceReports.aspx.
For more information about the report, contact Sarah Jon Gaddis (502-782-6953).