Aug 272014

By Tammy Gray

Holbrook water customers recently received the good news that the city’s water supply tests revealed that it remains safe to drink.

No contaminants were found to be above acceptable levels put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A few contaminants did register in the tests, but at low enough levels to be considered safe.

The city’s report and the EPA note that, “All drinking water, including bottled drinking water, may be reasonably expected to contain at least small amounts of some constituents (contaminants). It is important to remember that the presence of these constituents does not necessarily pose a health risk.”

In short, the EPA advises consumers that all water contains some form of contaminants, but there is no risk to the general public unless the amount of those contaminants exceeds allowable levels. According to the EPA, levels are set using the “best available science,” and are based on the amount of each particular contaminant that may possibly cause adverse health effects.

Few contaminants were found during testing of Holbrook’s water supply, and those that were identified were below the levels set by the EPA.

Copper, lead and chlorine were among the contaminants identified in the report. Chlorine is typically used to treat water to kill microbes, but copper and lead are typically the result of corrosion in a home’s plumbing system.

The EPA requires cities to perform testing under normal use conditions, such as in homes that actually use the water. This means that any corrosion resulting in the release of lead and copper in the homes will be revealed in the annual test report.

Actual levels of copper, lead and other corrosion related contaminants, such as cadmium, may vary from home to home, depending on the type and age of the plumbing. In order to ensure that water is safe, however, the EPA requires cities to ensure that the water is not overly corrosive or damaging to plumbing systems. In general, testing conducted by the city should ensure that the water is safe to drink in the average home.

Holbrook’s test results show that a small amount of nitrates were present during some testing. Nitrates usually enter the drinking water supply through runoff. Fertilizer, natural erosion and seepage from septic tanks can all raise nitrate levels in drinking water. The city notes that nitrates sometimes spike during rainy seasons.